Pressure mounts over judges’ pay as Shatter reveals proposals

PRESSURE was ratcheted up on judges refusing to take a pay cut as Justice Minister Alan Shatter revealed how much they would lose under proposed new laws.

Senior judiciary would see their salaries slashed by between 16%-23% if a referendum abolishing constitutional protection for their pay rates passes in October.

The move has led to angry public clashes between some elements of the judiciary and Mr Shatter who has criticised the fact that a minority of judges have refused to voluntarily fall into line with the rest of the public service and accept pay cuts and pension levies.

The official imposition of a pay-cut and pension levy would see the salary of the Chief Justice reduce from €295,916 to €227,168.

Pay for the president of the High Court would be cut from €274,779 to €211,088, a judge of the Supreme Court would come down from €257,872 to €198,226.

The president of the Circuit Court’s salary would fall from €249,418 to €191,794, a High Court judge’s wages would drop from €243,080 to €186,973, a president of the District Court would reduce from €183,894 to €146,885, a Circuit Court judge’s wages would fall from €177,554 to €141,892, and a District Court judge’s salary would be cut from €147,961 to €123,881.

Mr Shatter set out details of the 29th Amendment of the Constitution (Judges’ Remuneration) Bill 2011, stating how judges’ wages would be reduced if the move is backed by voters.

“The publication of the Referendum Bill fulfils the commitment contained in the Programme for Government to propose a Constitutional amendment to allow for reductions in the pay of the judiciary.

“The proposed measures would facilitate reductions on the same basis as reductions to the salaries of public servants made in the public interest. I am publishing the necessary legislation now together with the draft implementing bill to be clear about the simple measures proposed and allow plenty of time for public consideration ahead of the debates in the Dáil and Seanad early in the Autumn session.

“The Government is satisfied these proposals fully uphold the essential independence of the judiciary and, if carried, will facilitate judges making a contribution to the public finances. The proposal will be put to the people as required by Article 47of the Constitution in a referendum which will be held with the forthcoming Presidential election on October 27 next,” he said.

The newly appointed chief justice, Susan Denham, decided to keep the salary of a supreme court judge when she was promoted to the post last month — pending a final decision on judges’ pay.

This means she will retain the €257,872 salary, rather than the €295,916 she is entitled to claim in her new post.

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