Shatter hits back at judge's comments

Monday 15 April 2013 10.53
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said no question mark hangs over the independence of the judiciary
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said no question mark hangs over the independence of the judiciary

The Minister for Justice has said no question mark hangs over the independence of the judiciary or court system and the rule of law applies fully in the State.

Alan Shatter issued a strongly worded statement in response to newspaper reports of comments made by High Court judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

The comments were reported to be highly critical of the Government's handling of a range of issues, including judges' pay and pensions.

Mr Justice Kelly is said to have accused the Government of demolishing the country's judicial system "brick by brick".

The minister said it was "unfortunate that a constitutionally sanctioned pay reduction was presented as an attack on judicial independence".

He added: "At a time when we are still fighting to restore our economic sovereignty and bring about sustainable economic recovery, we all have a duty when speaking to ensure that what we say has no unintended consequences and does not undermine business confidence in the State.

"No one should have any doubt that the rule of law applies fully in this State and no question mark hangs over the independence of our judiciary or courts system."

The minister also said contrary to what was reported in the Sunday Business Post there were ongoing formal and informal contacts between Government and the judiciary.

He said he was surprised at the suggestion that this was not the case.

The minister said the Government had not "nor will it ever interfere in any way with the inviolable constitutional duty of the judiciary to independently determine and hear court proceedings".

He added: "Judicial independence is a crucial and fundamental principle of the concept of the separation of powers. It was of central importance and requires respect by each organ of the state."