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Cabinet approves autumn referendum on allowing pay cuts for judges

The Cabinet approves plans for a public vote on removing the safeguard for judges’ pay, alongside the Presidential election.

THE CABINET HAS this lunchtime approved a proposal to hold a referendum on judges’ pay alongside the Presidential election this autumn.

The referendum will ask the public whether they wish to remove the Constitution of Ireland’s declaration that a judge’s wage cannot be reduced while they are in office.

The referendum is to be put to the public alongside the election of a new president, which is expected to take place in late October.

A proposal to hold the referendum at that time had been put to the Cabinet by the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter.

The matter of judges’ pay has been a controversial topic in more recent years, particularly when it was revealed that the judiciary could not be subjected to the same pension levy as others on the public payroll.

Ultimately it was agreed that judges would voluntarily sign up for the deduction – but not every judge has done so.

As a result, a government can only influence the pay of a judge when they are first appointed to a role – dramatically limiting the current government’s ability to reduce the salaries of Ireland’s 151 judges.

The Constitution’s safeguard for judicial pay was intended to ensure that judges cannot be financially punished for any actions which go against the political wishes of the government.

Shatter said that if the referendum – which will propose the removal of the offending Article 35.3 – is passed, judges’ pay would be reduced to the same scales as other public servants.

How would you vote in a referendum to remove the Constitutional safeguard on judges’ pay?

Poll Results:

Yes (226)
No (31)
I don't know (9)

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