Approval sought for plan to progress towards appointment of 24 more judges

Minister for Justice Simon Harris says the increase, along with other measures, would amount to most significant court reform in a century

Plans to appoint 24 additional judges are to take a step forward under proposed legislation to be considered by Cabinet on Wednesday.

Minister for Justice Simon Harris is expected to seek Government approval for the Courts Bill 2023 which will lift caps on the number of judges by 21.

Previous legislation already increased the cap for the Circuit Court by three.

The move comes after the publication of the Report of the Judicial Planning Working Group (JPWG) in February which recommended a dramatic increase in the number of judges.


The Irish Times reported at the time that Ireland may need up to 108 extra judges over the next five years.

Mr Harris said in February that 24 additional judges would be appointed in 2023, with possibly 20 more next year.

He said the implementation of those and other recommendations of the JPWG will be the “most significant reform” of the courts in the last century.

According to sources the Government plans for there to be a phased increased allocation of resources.

The first phase would allow for eight judges to be appointed to both the District and Circuit courts, six to the High Court and two to the Court of Appeal.

The extra judges are intended to help clear the backlog of cases that developed during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as to support the Coalition’s plans to set up a Planning and Environmental Court and dedicated Family Courts.

Separately, the Cabinet is expected to be updated on plans to bring in an effective tax rate of 15 per cent for large multinational companies.

Minister for Finance Michael McGrath is to brief colleagues on the EU Minimum Tax Directive recently agreed in the wake of the international tax deal stuck under the auspices of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Countries have scope to apply the minimum effective 15 per cent tax rate in various ways under the OECD agreement.

Under Ireland’s plans the existing 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate will remain in place for the vast majority of businesses.

The application of an effective tax rate of 15 per cent will only apply to multinationals with an annual turnover of €750m or more.

The Irish Times reported last week that Ireland is likely to implement a top-up tax for major companies to bridge the gap between 12.5 per cent and 15 per cent.

Separately, it is understood that ministers will discuss a memo to formally establish a new unit in the Department of the Taoiseach to co-ordinate efforts to reduce child poverty.

Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar announced plans for the unit when he took over the role of Taoiseach from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin in December.

He told the Dáil at the time: “Our vision is to make Ireland the best country in Europe to be a child.”

The aim of the unit said to be to build on existing Government policies like free schoolbooks at primary level, expanding hot school meals, abolishing hospital charges for children and cuts to the cost of childcare.

The unit is to examine ways to reduce the cost of education and childcare, potential welfare reforms, public health measures and preventing family homelessness.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times