Judges angered at loss of phone costs

The country’s judges have reacted angrily to cutbacks to mobile phone and textbook allowances.

Documents released under Freedom of Information show the Association of Judges of Ireland has also expressed its concern over the Courts Service move to end new judges’ automatic entitlement to laptops and BlackBerrys.

The association was established in Nov 2011 to represent judges’ interests and its president is high-profile High Court judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

The correspondence between Mr Justice Kelly and CEO of the Courts Service, Brendan Ryan, on the planned cutbacks reached its climax last July when the association confirmed that it would ignore the Courts Service’s plan to reduce its mobile phone costs for judges pending resolution of the issue.

On Jul 18, Mr Justice Kelly wrote: “Dear Mr Ryan, I regret having to write to you again concerning another apparent unilateral alteration made by the Courts Service to the terms and conditions applicable to judges.”

Mr Justice Kelly pointed out that all judges were supplied with mobile phones by the Courts Service some years ago, with the understanding that judges would only be liable for any sums incurred by private phone use in excess of €100 per month.

He added that the unilateral move by the Courts Service “is not indicative of good practice that should occur. Neither is it acceptable to this association.”

In reply, Mr Ryan said that, under the new policy, international personal calls are payable by the user and should be reimbursed to the Courts Service with all domestic calls and official usage payable by the Service.

He also confirmed the automatic entitlement to BlackBerrys and laptops has ended but any new judge who requests a one is supplied with it.

Mr Ryan said the change in policy is a result of financial considerations as funding for ICT and support “has been substantially reduced in recent years”.

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