A Government-appointed group has recommended that a referendum be held to establish a full-time Court of Appeal, to deal with all criminal and civil appeal cases.

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The group's report, which was published today, says there is a serious backlog in the number of appeals heard by the Supreme Court.

The Government has agreed to examine in detail its recommendations with a view to identifying an implementation approach which could minimise additional costs.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said: 'The delays at Supreme Court level are of concern. However, I am anxious to ensure, given the current economic position, that additional costs to the State are minimised.'

The report found that there is an overwhelming case for additional judicial resources at the highest appeal stage.

It said the appointment of additional judges in recent years combined with innovations such as the Commercial Court and the use of refurbished regional courthouses for hearings has had a huge impact on reducing delays in the High Court lists.

However, a substantial backlog has developed at Supreme Court level with cases taking up to 30 months for listing.