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Judges warn on Government relations

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Michael Martin said the country was on the verge of a full-scale constitutional crisis

Michael Martin said the country was on the verge of a full-scale constitutional crisis

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Michael Martin said the country was on the verge of a full-scale constitutional crisis

Judges have given full backing to a senior colleague who criticised the Government's approach to pay cuts and reforms for the judiciary.

As Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin weighed into the row, branding it unprecedented, the Association of Judges warned of a total breakdown in communication with the coalition.

Judge Peter Kelly raised concerns over how the Government was handling the issue of cutting pay and introducing reforms at a private business dinner organised by PWC last week. The association issued a statement declaring full support for their colleague.

"The judge pointed out that for almost 90 years of the state's existence there had been no need for an association of judges given the mutual respect demonstrated by the executive and judicial branches of government, one for the other," it said.

"All structures both formal and informal which existed for communication between those two branches of government have ceased."

Mr Martin said the country was on the verge of a full-scale constitutional crisis after Justice Minister Alan Shatter warned that any suggestion of political interference in the judicial system would do great damage to Ireland's international reputation.

"This evening we are witnessing an unprecedented breakdown in the relationship between the Irish judiciary and the Irish Government," Mr Martin said.

The Fianna Fail leader said Judge Kelly's speech was in effect opening a door to meaningful consultation with Government to discuss those concerns.

"In characteristically dismissive fashion, the Justice Minister slammed that door in the judiciary's face with an ill-judged and intemperate media intervention," he said.

"The minister is apparently heedless of the fact that a Justice and Defence Minister attacking his country's independent judiciary is likely to have a much more negative impact on the opinion of those who monitor such dynamics. Minister Shatter has poisoned this relationship and the country requires urgent political leadership to avoid a much greater crisis emerging."

PA Media