Byline: Leah McDonald
LAVISHLY paid judges can claim almost [euro]10,000 a year from taxpayers to help pay for a private library at home.
The astonishing perk is just one of a number of extras available to judges who are on abundant salaries that range from [euro]127,000 to a enviable [euro]295,000.
Money from the State coffers must also be found to pay up to [euro]2,000 for their ceremonial wigs and numerous other expenses for the likes of travel, clothes and work areas, according to figures uncovered by a Dail watchdog. One District Court judge claimed as much as [euro]91,000 in travel and subsistence.
The Public Accounts Committee has also found out that judges can claim [euro]1,485 every two years to cover the cost of a new 'frock coat', 'frock coat without tails' and 'vest'. A letter from the Department of Justice to the expenses watchdog. revealed how judges can also demand [euro]389.50 for a new gown every three years.
High Court and Supreme Court judges, along with the chief justice and the presidents of the High Court, the Circuit Court and the District Court are all granted [euro]9,057.96 annually 'to cover the provision of a study' in their homes. The letter adds that the study must have 'suitable library facilities'. Circuit Court judges can claim [euro]2,730 and District Court judges, [euro]1,365, for the same purpose. Their mileage is generally the same as civil service rates, except with a higher band of nearly 71c per km for larger cars - to travel to court and back.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act earlier this year showed wigs and gowns for judges have cost the State [euro]70,000 over the past two years .
Subsistence. and mileage claims came to [euro]2.3million in 2009, with one district court judge claiming [euro]91,909.
Labour's justice spokesman Pat Rabbitte declined to comment on the figures last night as they are to be discussed by the Public Accounts Committee soon.
According to a study published in the Journal of Legal Analysis last year, Irish judges are the second best paid in the world, out of 28 countries.
At [euro]27.4million every year, only Britain is more generous. The salary bill is entirely separate to the roughly [euro]2million a year claimed in expenses and millions more paid out in extravagant pension entitlements.
Best paid of all the judges is Chief Justice John Murray, who takes home [euro]295,916 a year.
Next is the president of the High Court who gets [euro]274,779.
The seven judges of the Supreme Court earn [euro]257,872 each, the president of the Circuit Court gets [euro]249,418, while each of the 36 judges of the High Court earns [euro]243,080. The 37 Circuit Court judges receive [euro]177,554, while the 63 in the District Court get [euro]147,961.
Rural members of the Special Criminal Court may also claim [euro]144.80 for each day spent in Dublin for sittings.
There have been various moves to rid the courts of wigs and gowns but the current rules on judges' dress date back to 1986 when the Rules of the Superior Courts where brought in. …