Judges claimed almost €942,000 in expenses in the first six months of the year, an increase of more than 20 per cent on the same time last year, new figures from the Courts Service show.
The increase is attributed to a rise in the number of judges and a hike also in the mileage allowance.
Claims increased at the District Court by more than €110,000, or 25 per cent and at Circuit Court level by almost €30,000, or 10 per cent. High Court claims went up by more than €16,000. There was a small increase at the Court of Appeal and a small reduction in expenses claimed at Supreme Court level.
An additional nine judges made claims at the District Court compared to the same time in 2016, while 33 High Court judges claimed, compared to 34 last year. Some judges did not make any claims in the six-month period.
The single largest claim, of almost €22,630 was made at the District Court by Judge Alan Mitchell.. The former Fine Gael councillor, appointed in 2012, is a moveable judge who may be sent to districts across the country.
His expenses included more than €7,000 on travel, almost €15,000 on subsistence and almost €590 on incidentals, which include judicial attire.
Judge Séamus Hughes, a former Fianna Fáil TD appointed in 2009, who sits in Longford/Westmeath, claimed €22,626, slightly less than his colleague. This included more than €6,000 in travel, more than €15,500 in subsistence and €970 in incidentals.
Judge Kevin Kilraine, who was appointed in 2008 and sits in the Leitrim/Donegal/Sligo area, claimed just over €22,000. Almost €13,700 of this was for subsistence and more than €8,400 was for travel.
Of the 62 District Court judges who made claims in the first half of this year, 22 had higher subsistence claims than travel claims. Subsistence includes claims for meals and overnight accommodation when required.
At Circuit Court level, the largest claim, more than €18,500, was made by Judge Brian O’Callaghan. More than €13,600 of the claim was for subsistence, and almost €5,000 for travel. Judge Rory MacCabe claimed almost €17,500, with over €9,600 in subsistence, €5,600 in travel and €2,200 in incidental expenses.
President of the Circuit Court, Judge Raymond Groake claimed almost €15,650, including more than €10,000 on subsistence and the balance on travel.
In total, the 40 judges of the High Court claimed more than €67,200 between them. Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan had the highest claim at this level, of almost €4,900, followed by Mr Justice Kevin Cross, with almost €4,470 and Mr Justice Brian McGovern, with almost €4,400.
At the Court of Appeal, judges claimed a combined total of €3,870, with Mr Justice John Hedigan claiming more than €2,560, two thirds of the total. Of the 10 judges, six made no claim.
At the Supreme Court, four out of eight judges made claims, totalling €820. Outgoing chief justice, Mrs Justice Susan Denham, made no claim, while her successor claimed €195.
The Courts Service said travel and accommodation costs arise from the requirement for Circuit and District Courts across the country and the level of costs recouped by each judge is a direct reflection of the work, numbers of sittings and the locations he or she is required to attend.
A spokesman also said the 20 per cent increase in expenses could be accounted for by an increase in mileage allowance, judicial vacancies that have been filled since this time last year and five additional moveable judges. He also said this year, judges of the Circuit and District Courts changed their attire “ to a more modern, practical, and cost effective design”.
“The costs for the first half of this year reflect this once off general change – and will result in a reduction of such costs in future years,” he said.