Shatter asks judges to work longer hours and take fewer holidays
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has written to the Chief Justice suggesting judges might effect savings by working longer hours and reducing the court vacations.
Mr Shatter’s letter was discussed at a meeting of High Court judges earlier this week, The Irish Times has learned.
It is expected the move will be discussed at meetings of the Association of Judges of Ireland, set up in late 2011 when the judiciary felt their views on the pay referendum and other issues were not being fully represented. In his letter to the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Susan Denham, it is understood Mr Shatter requested the judiciary to consider how savings might be effected by them through an extension of the courts’ sitting hours and extension of court terms.
The request was set in the context of the Government’s aim to achieve savings of €1 billion across the public service.
Normal court sitting hours are from 10.30am or 11am to 4pm, although some sittings extend beyond those hours while others conclude earlier. While many members of the judiciary regularly work long hours, some are viewed as not pulling their weight in terms of the amount of work done and hours sat. The higher courts sit for about 40 weeks and their annual holidays include a two-month vacation over August and September. The District Court sits all year round.
Legal sources said many within the judiciary accept they will have to join with others in effecting savings but some are unhappy about the Minister’s intervention.