Sunday 19 November 2017

Some judges reluctant to sign up for voluntary pay cut

John Drennan

John Drennan

A TOTAL of 32 judges have declined to sign up for a voluntary cut in their salaries -- and there are concerns that others who have signed up are not taking the full 10 per cent pay cut requested by the Government.

There was such a low take-up of the scheme by judges -- who cannot have their six-figure salaries cut by the Government -- that at one point the Chief Justice wrote to his judicial colleagues, "encouraging'' them to participate.

The most recent figures from the Revenue Commissioners, which were disclosed to a Dail Finance Committee, reveal that 111 of the 143 judges in the State have now signed up for the voluntary pay cut.

To date, the commissioners have received payments of €698,000 and standing orders of €55,200 per month. Over a full calendar year, these would realise €662,400.

But the overall repayments are significantly less than the amount that had been anticipated. It is believed that while some judges are contributing, they are not taking the full 10 per cent cut.

The overall cost of judicial salaries -- before expenses for wigs, accommodation and other expenses -- comes to €27.449m. Judges' earnings range from €147,961 for a district judge to €295,916 for the Chief Justice. (These figures do not include the pay cut.)

If all members of the judiciary took up the scheme, the overall take for the year would be €2.744m.

The existence of a significant 20 per cent rump of judges who have still refused to pay means that the cut in judicial salaries will only save a total of €1.36m.

Joan Burton, who is a member of the Dail's finance committee, said the implementation of the scheme was a matter for concern.

"The Government should legislate to deal properly with the issue of judicial pay, instead of leaving it to the discretion of individual judges,'' she said.

A political source said: "It is clear that this is a long way short of the figures that would obtain if all 111 judges were paying the full 10 per cent levy. These figures are deeply unsatisfactory and are open to the construction that some judges are paying the full levy.

"It could also be the case that some judges are not paying the full 10 per cent. It is a discretionary scheme, so a judge could theoretically make a donation of €10 and say that they have complied."

A spokesperson for the Revenue told the Sunday Independent: "It is important to emphasise that voluntary payments can be made at any time and at varying frequencies.

"There is no specific 'due date' by when payments must be made, and further payments continue to be received.''

Sunday Independent

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