Ex-chief justice Keane critical of referendum

Tue, Oct 18, 2011, 01:00

FORMER CHIEF Justice Mr Justice Ronan Keane has criticised the Government’s referendum on reducing the pay of serving judges as “quite remarkably vague”.

He said while members of the judiciary should share some part of the crisis in the public finances, he questioned if the proposals to reduce judges’ remuneration would make any difference.

“The amounts involved compared to the enormous problems we are having ... are relatively small.”

Speaking on RTÉ 1’s Frontlineprogramme last night Mr Justice Keane said the proposal was “difficult, problematic ... dangerously vague”.

“I fail to see the urgency of this,” he said of the referendum to be held on the same day as the presidential election on October 27th.

Minister for Justice and Defence Alan Shatter defended putting the matter to the electorate, saying the move was motivated by the Government’s desire to achieve fairness across the public service in the face of an “economic tsunami”.

He did not believe, if passed, the proposal would be abused by future governments, who would have the power to reduce or increase judges’ remuneration.

“I believe it will stand the test of time,” he told broadcaster Pat Kenny on Frontline.