The Chief Justice and the Irish judiciary have issued a statement expressing grave concerns about developments relating to the judiciary in Poland.

Earlier this week, the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary issued a statement highlighting the forced early retirement of 27 judges of the Supreme Court in Poland - describing it as a further attempt to bring the judiciary under the control of the government.

In a statement today, Mr Justice Frank Clarke and the Judiciary of Ireland said they strongly supported this statement and expressed their grave concerns about the reported situation in Poland and the likely impact on judicial independence.

The EU has accused Poland's ruling right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS) of trying to control the judiciary and subvert democratic standards.

Warsaw says the changes are needed to free the judiciary of communist-era thinking and practices.
           
The president of the Supreme Court, Malgorzata Gersdorf, defied the new law on Wednesday morning by going to her office as usual, to applause from hundreds of supporters who chanted "constitution" and sang the Polish national anthem.
           
"My presence here is not about politics, I am here to protect the rule of law," she told reporters.
           
Judge Gersdorf is 65, the age at which judges are now required to retire, but a constitutional law expert said she met the conditions to remain in place until her six-year term has expired.

She became Supreme Court president in 2014.
           
"The law cannot work retroactively. So this legislation...is clearly unconstitutional... and could lead to paralysis at the Supreme Court," said the expert, Marek Chmaj.
           
Addressing the European Parliament on Wednesday in Strasbourg, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki defended his government's overhaul of the judiciary.
           
"Each EU state has the right to shape their legal system according to their own traditions," he said, adding that the EU should focus on external challenges and not wage a "campaign" against the democratically elected government of a member state.

Additional Reporting Reuters