Coalition plans to cut judges' salaries


JUDICIAL REFORMS:RADICAL JUDICIAL reforms under the incoming government will result in judges’ salaries being reduced in line with other public sector reductions and will see a new mechanism for the investigation of complaints against judges.

The measures form part of the justice and law reform element of the programme for government which also includes a promise to abolish prisoners’ automatic entitlement to a quarter of their sentence off for good behaviour.

Instead, remission would have to be earned by violent criminals and sexual offenders by their participation in jail in drugs rehabilitation courses, sex offenders’ programmes and in education and training.

The incoming coalition has said it would also introduce periods of electronic tagging for sex offenders and violent criminals after they have served their prison sentences.

The first item in the justice area in the programme for government is a commitment to put “victims and their needs at the heart of the justice process”.

Aside from a pledge to enact legislation to “strengthen the rights of victims of crime” there are no specific details on how the justice system will become more victim-centred.

There is a commitment to review the building of the new super prison in Thornton Hall, north Dublin, with a view to finding cheaper alternatives, if any.

However, the programme also acknowledges the need to upgrade prison facilities and to provide accommodation with in-cell sanitation.

Advocates of Thornton Hall have long claimed the new jail would achieve both those aims and also alleviate, if not completely end, chronic overcrowding across the prison system.

There are several proposals in relation to white collar crime and investigating and prosecuting those responsible for irregularities in the banking sector.

The programme contains a general commitment to “ensure that rogue bankers and all those that misappropriate or embezzle funds are properly pursued for their crimes and that the full rigours of the law will apply to them”.

To this end, the new coalition will enact a new consolidated and reformed anti-corruption law.

It will also strengthen the powers of the Criminal Assets Bureau in dealing with white collar criminals, including pursuing them post-conviction for any legal aid granted to them during their trials.

The incoming government has also pledged to put community policing – gardaí on the beat – at the heart of the Garda’s activities. In the area of drugs, its most noteworthy promise is to introduce compulsory drugs rehabilitation for some drug users.

The focus on preventing the flow of phones and drugs into jails will be heightened, with new airport-style scanners to be introduced at all entry points for staff and visitors.