Democracy – we all agree it’s a good thing, right? And we all agree that it’s exemplified once every few years when we put our mark on a slip of paper and decide who’s going to run the state.(Which assumes, of course, that the big multi-nationals don’t run it already.) But if you were to suggest that we should have democracy in the work-place, that major decisions for each company should be made by a majority of the workers with each vote carrying exactly the same weight, we’d be told to go home and boil our head. Only managers and executive boards, with special skills for the job, can do that. So when you enter the work-place, hang your democratic hat on the nearest hat-stand.
Which brings us to the judiciary in the south. According to this morning’s Irish Times, Chief Justice Susan Denham (a woman, hooray for equality) has warned the government that it’s risking a second-best judiciary by “refusing to ease the financial burden on High Court judges who live outside Dublin”.
So just how heavy would this financial burden be? Well, that ‘outside Dublin” reference is to the fact that while Circuit and District Court judges get travel allowance, High Court judges don’t. The Chief Justice figures if you give rubbish pay you’ll get rubbish High Court judges.
So just how much do High court judges get? Well if you were appointed before the beginning of 2012, you’d be notching €191,306, and if you were appointed after Jan 1, 2012, you’ll just get €172,710. And let’s not complicate things by talking about the size of pensions and the €10,000+ that goes each year on “judicial attire and incidental costs”. So as a High Court judge you’d be getting nearly £160,000 in most cases and in the less fortunate cases, you’d scrimp by on just over £142,000 a year.If these unfortunates don’t get a good bump-up for travel expenses, according to the Chief Justice, there’s a risk only the second-rate will apply. Which makes you wonder what those lawyers and barristers must be coining.
When I was studying History in UCD in the 1960s, the professor explained that judges got fat salaries so they’d be safe from corruption: being rich, they wouldn’t be tempted by bribes or the like. Idiots that we were, we all nodded and thought this was a smart thing to do. Well, smart if you were a judge. The truth is, no matter how much money you have, you can always use some more. And another truth is that anyone who can’t get by on £142,000 a year should be forced to find out what it’s like living on £42,000 a year or better still, £21,000 a year. Or on the dole.
One of the goals of Sinn Féin is an Ireland of equals. Good luck on that one, guys.