The Association of Judges of Ireland has issued a statement deprecating "in the strongest terms" the personalised attacks and invective directed at Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly reportedly coming from sections of the Polish media.

The reported attacks come after Ms Justice Donnelly referred the extradition case of a Polish man to the Court of Justice of the European Union for a ruling on the effect of recent legislative changes in Poland, which she described as "immense".

Ms Justice Donnelly said the High Court had been forced to conclude that the common value of the rule of law had been "systematically damaged" and that democracy in Poland had been breached.

In its statement, the association said any interested party was entitled to criticise a judgment or ruling of the court, even in robust terms.

But it said criticism should be confined to the manner in which a judge as a public office-holder performed her duty and should be directed at the court's decision and not at the judge personally.

It said the irrelevant references to Ms Justice Donnelly's personal and private life were utterly unacceptable and the association condemned them unreservedly.

It emphasised that this criticism was not to be taken as expressing any views whatsoever on the ongoing extradition case or Ms Justice Donnelly's ruling as it would be inappropriate for them to do so.

The Association of Judges of Ireland is made up of the majority of Irish judges.

It was set up to represent the interests of its members and its mandate includes the protection of judicial independence, the improvement of the administration of justice, and the promotion of a better public understanding of the judiciary's role.

The European Association of Judges has expressed its "total solidarity" with all Irish judges and, in particular, Ms Justice Donnelly after what it says are the recent "personalised attacks" and "offensive criticism" directed at the judge in sections of the Polish media.

The association strongly and unreservedly condemned the unacceptable references to her personal and private life.

It said any citizen was entitled to criticise a court's ruling but disapproval should not be addressed in a manner that encourages a culture of disrespect for the judiciary.

It also said the criticism should be directed at the decision, not the judge.

The association said it wanted to emphasise the vital importance of the independence of judges in "making decisions in a vibrant and plural democracy which promotes equality and diversity."

Ms Justice Donnelly's referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union was made on Monday, in the extradition case of Arthur Celmer, a Polish native, who is wanted for trial in Poland on drug trafficking charges.

He was arrested in Ireland last May on foot of a European Arrest Warrant.

His lawyers described this case as the "lead test case" in Europe on extradition to Poland and had opposed his surrender because of recent legislative changes, concerning the Polish judiciary, courts and public prosecutor, among other issues.

Ms Justice Donnelly said the European Commission had made extensive efforts at constructive dialogue but there had been little engagement by the Polish authorities.

She said the commission had issued a document last December, called the 'Reasoned Proposal' for Poland, the first time this had been done in relation to any member state.

The judge said this document was a "shocking indictment of the rule of law in a European country in the second decade of the 21st century."

It was reported that conservative elements in the media in Poland had attacked Ms Justice Donnelly on the basis of her sexual orientation.

The case is due back before her next week, when she will hear submissions about the precise wording of the referral to Europe.