Pensions of retired judges to be cut by about 5% under pay agreement

Retired judges are due to be hit by the planned pay and pension cuts under the renewed Croke Park agreement on public sector pay.

While newly appointed judges already face less favourable conditions than in the past, those who have retired from the Bench will also be affected by the cuts under Croke Park II.

Under the agreement, retired public service staff who receive pensions in excess of €32,500 are to face further cuts.

Most retired judges receive more than double that figure and seven judges who retired in the past five years are on pensions of over €100,000.

The largest pension and retirement payments were given 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 gross pension of €137,000.

Those figures do not reflect the public service pension reduction or tax liability and they will be cut by about 5% under Croke Park II.

This is in line with payments to former taoisigh Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern, who are facing cuts of about €7,500 to their pensions of €150,000.

New judges will have to serve 20 years before they can draw a full pension and must pay a 13% contribution towards their pension, instead of the current 4% paid by serving judges.

Up to now, judges of the Circuit, High, and Supreme Courts were entitled to a full pension after 15 years’ service.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has also indicated that he wants to increase judges’ working hours and reduce their annual holidays in line with conditions to be imposed on public sector workers. The totality of these changes has lead to fears that senior lawyers with successful practices will no longer apply for judgeships.

The Association of Judges of Ireland, the representative body formed in Nov 2011 in the wake of the referendum to reduce judges’ pay, has so far chosen not comment specifically on the cuts.

The secretary of the AJI, Mr Justice John Edwards told the Irish Examiner yesterday that “where our work on behalf of our members requires engagement with the executive on issues of mutual concern, it is conducted through well established channels i.e. via the Attorney General who facilitates such communications”.

While the association insists that it is not a representative body for the judiciary as such, it now represents in excess of 90% of the serving judiciary. A number of retired judges have also joined the AJI as honorary members.

More in this section