Judges’ pay: the next cause for a crusade?
Sir, – A number of recent articles (mostly by legal professionals) argue that the low salary of judges is damaging to the integrity of our judicial system. The average salary of a High Court judge is about ¤200,000, around six times the average Irish salary and €15,000 more than that of the taoiseach, a role that has much more personal exposure and bears a both a higher responsibility and a greater burden in service of the State. In addition, a judge can be subject to public criticism only by TDs in the safety of the Dáil chamber and, gross misconduct aside, is guaranteed their position until they choose to retire.
That solicitors and barristers supposedly refuse to become judges because of the unbearable drop in income tells us more about their enormously over-inflated self-regard and the utterly rotten condition of the Irish “justice” industry than it does about the respect that the State and its citizens have for judges.
We are reminded of this every day in news reports of the eye-watering costs of going to trial with the most minor of cases. We are reminded too by frequent increases in our insurance premiums, necessary to cover the fantastical “costs” of legal professionals.
At the troika’s behest, the previous government and then minister for justice Alan Shatter tried hard to break open a chink of light in the legal profession’s closed shop, but failed. Once the troika left town, the political will to challenge the powerful vested interests quickly evaporated. The present debate over the role of judges is evidence only that this item should return immediately to the top of the government agenda, and should remain there until resolved in favour of the people of Ireland.
One assumes that Paul Murphy and co must be looking for their next populist crusade now that they have succeeded in abolishing domestic water charges. This goal is wide open for them. – Yours, etc,
Phibsboro, Dublin 7.