Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has questioned the length of the holiday periods taken by the courts.

In an address to the Law Society's annual conference in Killarney, Mr Shatter asked whether or not it was appropriate that the court vacation period incorporated all of August and September.

Mr Shatter said the practice had existed since the 19th century and his comments should not be misunderstood as opening up a new row with the judiciary.

“[This should] not be seen in any way as a criticism of our judiciary but I do believe it is legitimate to ask questions,” he said.