Sunday 21 January 2018

Trio of new judges will escape €12,000 pay cut

Patrick Durcan: new judge
Patrick Durcan: new judge

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

THREE new judges will avoid an extra pay cut of more than €12,000 a year, even though they were appointed after the landslide referendum on judges' pay.

Earlier this week, Taoiseach Enda Kenny appointed three new District Court judges, all with political connections.

The trio were appointed after the referendum but before the relevant legislation has been introduced.

This means they will earn €123,881 once the laws are passed, some €12,000 a year more than judges appointed in the future.

The new judges included Mr Kenny's four-time running mate and former Fine Gael senator Patrick Durcan.

Solicitor Michael Coghlan, a former election agent for Labour MEP Nessa Childers, and barrister Grainne Malone were also appointed to the bench.

Mrs Malone is a sister of former lord mayor of Dublin, Labour councillor Emer Costello, who is married to Labour TD Joe Costello. She is also a sister of Labour senator Mary Moran, who was nominated by Mr Kenny to the upper house.

Last night Fianna Fail justice spokesperson Dara Calleary, criticised the Government for making a raft of appointments. "All this talk about judicial reform has proven to be hot air," he said.

"The warrants of appointment should have stated that the new judges salaries would be set at the new pay rates."

Mr Calleary also said that the appointment of the judges -- who all have political or personal connections to Fine Gael and Labour politicians -- did not augur well for government plans to have control over the appointment of members to the new Legal Services Regulatory Authority.

"The Government has been incredibly partisan to date," said Mr Calleary.

Confirmation that the new District Court judges will enjoy higher salary levels comes after the Irish Independent revealed that the country's two newest High Court judges have also avoided an extra pay cut of almost €20,000 a year.

This is because they were nominated two weeks before the referendum on judicial pay.


Pay cuts for existing judges were dependent on the successful outcome of the referendum which was overwhelmingly passed by four out of five voters.

But even after the cut, the pay of existing judges will still be ahead of that given to any newly appointed judges.

Under new laws planned by Justice Minister Alan Shatter, an existing District Court judge's salary will fall from €147,961 to €123,881, a reduction of 16.3pc.

By comparison, the rates for new entrants, planned by Public Reform and Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin, will see incoming district court judges earning €111,698 a year.

Earlier this month, the Irish Independent revealed that new High Court judge Michael White, a former Circuit Court judge, has political and personal links to Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore.

And new High Court judge Kevin Cross is a Fine Gael supporter and a son-in-law of a former party minister.

Mr Justice White is a former Workers Party colleague of the Labour leader but he also represented Mr Gilmore as a solicitor in a dispute with the TD's neighbours over a plot of land where he built his house.

Meanwhile, Mr Justice Cross made a political donation of €1,200 to European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton prior to February's general election.

Irish Independent

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