Judges’ pensions average €85,000

Annual pensions totalling almost €3m are being paid to judges who retired within the past five years.

Lump sum payments of over €8m have already been paid to the 31 members of the judiciary who retired from the service between May 2008 and March of this year.

Figures released by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform show that the average severance package given to retiring judges was €261,000, with one judge receiving more than €400,000.

The average annual pension awarded to the judges is in the region of €85,000 a year, almost three times the annual average wage, according to CSO figures.

The largest pension and retirement payments went to Richard Johnson, the former president of the High Court, who retired in Oct 2009 with a lump sum of €412,000 and an annual pension of €137,000.

Lump sum payments include €364,620 to Declan Budd, who retired from the circuit court in Oct 2011 and €374,127 to Esmond Smyth who retired from the circuit court last February.

The figures are gross and do not reflect the application of the public service pension reduction or tax liability.

Neither do they take into account Wednesday’s budget changes, which means that annual pensions over €60,000 will no longer secure full tax relief and will be subject to the full 7% universal social charge.

However, the figures obtained by Fine Gael TD Derek Keating highlight the large pensions being paid to those at the higher end of the public sector.

None of the judges who retired since the economic downturn began in 2008 is on a pension of less than €56,000 a year and the smallest lump sum received was still in excess of €168,000.

They also reveal that, despite the passing of a referendum last October approving a reduction in judges’ pay, those who retired will continue to enjoy an affluent lifestyle.

Judges are entitled to a full pension after 15 years’ service — a much shorter length of service than applies to most of the public service.

Since January of this year, they have been allowed to take early retirement at the age of 65 as supreme court and high court judges have a retirement age of 72 and circuit court judges retire at 70.

The scheme does not apply to district justices, who already retire at 65.


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