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Niall Collins Calls for a Referendum on Judges’ Pay

Read more about: Bertie Ahern Resigns, Bertiegate, Corruption, Fianna Fail, Government, Oireachtas, Tribunals     Print This Post

Apropos only 19 of 145 judges taking a pay cut, Niall Collins TD for Fianna Fail in Limerick wants a referendum:

“This group of elite untouchables should be subjected to the regular procedures administering the pay of higher civil servants. In the modern day being protected by the Constitution is simply not good enough given that many thousands of people and their families are suffering falling incomes and job losses.”

“I feel with the forthcoming Lisbon 2 Referendum we have an early opportunity to address this issue through a vote of the people. Many of the working practices of the Courts and Judiciary need modernising and this is now an opportune time for that,”

Oh the rage…the outrage…

Any chance we can tag on a bit about pensions to former ministers sitting in the Dail and get the full 100% cut? Rather than just deflecting attention from that onto the judges? Thanks.

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7 Responses to “Niall Collins Calls for a Referendum on Judges’ Pay”

  1. # Comment by Brendan Jun 22nd, 2009 10:06

    Does he even know why that provision of the Constitution exists? It’s not just because lawyers drafted the damn thing.

  2. # Comment by Longman Oz Jun 22nd, 2009 12:06

    [cough] Blasphemous Libel [/cough]

  3. # Comment by Tipster Jun 22nd, 2009 13:06

    Section 2(2) of the outline bill proposed here: has a nice legalistic tone to it.

  4. # Comment by Michael Walsh Jun 22nd, 2009 20:06

    Before we go all Henry the Sixth Part Two, it might be worth while bearing in mind that since most judges won’t settle their tax affairs until the end of the next financial year, we’ll have to wait another year until we actually find out what proportion of them decide to accept a pay cut.

    I’m surprised that they think it would be unconstitutional to apply the levy to judges. In O’Byrne v. Minister for Finance, the Supreme Court decided that increasing income tax was constitutional even when it had the effect of reducing judicial salaries, as the measure was not specifically aimed at the judiciary.

    I can’t help feeling that setting up this voluntary system was a bad idea in the first place. It will – in all probability – bring disrepute upon the judiciary and result in a mob against the judges mentality (to a degree it already has). There aren’t that many of us who would voluntarily reduce our incomes, regardless of how much in the public interest it might be!

  5. # Comment by Tomaltach Jun 23rd, 2009 08:06

    I would agree with Michael. I think that the current situation is regrettable. There are certainly aspects of our judicial system that I would like to see improved but we would do well not to allow the reputation and authority of our justices to be attacked by the rabble. Unfortunately there have been a number of incidents in recent years which damaged the image of the judiciary, and we don’t really want to slip down the road of populist cries for tearing up some very important protections in our constitution. (I think we are some way from that yet, but let’s not go there).

    What I cannot understand is that given the case cited by Michael and the fact that the levy is very broad across the entire public service and could not therefore be seen as targeting the judiciary, why didn’t the attorney general allow it to go ahead? He seems to have taken an extremely broad reading of the way the constitutional provision on judges pay should be interpreted. I would have said run with it, and if it is successfully challenged later, so be it, at least the relevant constitutional law will be clarified further.

    Secondly, given that it seemed likely that a voluntary measure could be problematic (and I accept we need more time to see if our justices will make a contribution), and given that it was obvious that there’d be a wild outcry if and when the solidarity on the part of the judges failed to materialise, why didn’t the government and the judciary have the forethought to come up with some kind of a better system?

    It certainly will be interesting to see how this pans out. Not because of what it will save the exchequer, but because it will say something about how our emminent justices regard the importance of safeguarding their reputation. What I mean is that, we know it is important they are held in high regard in so far as is possible. If they willingly allow that reputation to slide, then they will be doing Irish justice a serious disservice.

    Furthermore, I mentioned criticisms that can be levelled at (some of) our justices. One of which is that there is certainly a widespread impression (be it real or imagined) that they are living too remote from the people they are judging to make sound and sensible decisions. That in effect, they are in somewhat of a bubble and simply cannot understand the choices and pressures on the rest of us. Well, whether this is true or mostly a misconception, it is damaging, and one obvious way of copperfasting it would be to reject solidarity with their fellow public servants.

    For this reason – the reputation of our judiciary – I strongly believe the judges should step forward.

  6. # Comment by Mark Coughlan Jun 23rd, 2009 22:06

    Great comment Tomaltach.

  7. # Comment by Joe Jul 30th, 2010 14:07

    The assertion that judges should not have to pay the levy makes a mockery of our constitution as it is an interpretation undoubtedly not intended in the first place. Should that situation continue I would back calls for a referendum on judges pay. For all legal heads out there this is NOT in any way a violation of the seperation of powers principle for judges to be subject to the same taxes and levies as everyone else!! It is however a fundamental principal of a democratic republic that everyone is threated equal by the law and no group of elite untouchables are allowed undermine this.