Irish judges back counterparts in Poland in forced retirement row

Chief Justice Mr Frank Clarke expresses ‘grave concern’ over judicial independence in Poland

Chief Justice Frank Clarke has expressed grave concern over legislative changes in Poland affecting the judiciary there. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Chief Justice Frank Clarke has expressed grave concern over legislative changes in Poland affecting the judiciary there. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Irish judges have expressed support for their counterparts in Poland who have been forced into early retirement by the government there.

Under changes introduced by the governing Law and Justice party (PiS), which came into effect on Tuesday, the retirement age for Polish judge has been reduced from 70 to 65, resulting in the removal of 27 out of 72 Supreme Court justices.

In a statement issued by the Irish Courts Service, the Chief Justice and the Judiciary expressed “grave concern” over the possible impact the law reform could have on judicial independence in Poland.

Chief Justice Mr Justice Frank Clarke backed the stance of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ), which said earlier this week the legislation was “a further attempt to bring the judiciary under control of the government”.

PiS took control of both presidency and parliament in November 2015. Since then, it has placed areas such as education, the military and public media under closer government control.

Critics have claimed the latest move by the government is an attempt to interfere with the independence of the judicial system.The development prompted thousands to take to the streets of Warsaw and other Polish cities to protest against the law.

The president of Poland’s supreme court, 65-year-old Malgorzata Gersdorf, has vowed to continue her duties despite the change in legislation.

Last March, Irish High Court judge Aileen Donnelly asked the European courts for a ruling on legal changes in Poland before agreeing to extradite a Polish man wanted on drugs trafficking charges in his homeland.