John Murray: paid €295,916

Salaries paid to Irish judges are the second highest in the world, new figures have revealed.

The cost of paying judges is €27.4m each year with only the United Kingdom rewarding members of their judiciary more generously.

The salary bill is entirely separate to the roughly €2m a year claimed in judicial expenses and millions more paid out in generous pension entitlements.

Best paid of all the judges is the chief justice John Murray, who takes home €295,916 for every year he works.

Next in line is the president of the High Court who gets €274,779 while the seven judges of the Supreme Court earn a combined €1.8m or €257,872 each.

The president of the Circuit Court earns €249,418 while each of the 36 judges of the High Court earns €243,080, or a combined total of €8.75m.

Each of the 37 judges appointed to the Circuit Court receive €177,554 each while the 63 judges of the District Court gets the not insignificant sum of €147,961 annually. The president of the District Court is paid €183,894, the figures from the Courts Service show.

Full pension entitlements are available to judges
after just 15 or 20 years of service.

The generous salaries make Ireland's judges the second-best paid in the world, according to a study published in the Journal of Legal Analysis.

It compared earnings for High Court judges across 28 countries during the period between 2004 and 2005.

Irish judges earned an average of US$248,678, around $7,000 more than judges in Australia and $37,000 more than their counterparts in New Zealand.

The equivalent of High Court judges in both the United States and France earned roughly $200,000 whilst those serving in Germany earned just $108,000.

Judicial salaries in Ireland cannot be adjusted by the government but judges have made arrangements that they can take an anonymous pay cut in response to the deterioration in exchequer figures.

The judiciary have been under severe pressure to take a pay cut after the government was forced to exempt them from the pension levy because of constitutional constraints.

In announcing the voluntary scheme earlier this month, chief justice John Murray said: "Given the economic crisis, which has led to the introduction of the pension levy and its general application to those entitled to pensions from the state, it is considered that members of the judiciary should be facilitated in making such a voluntary payment.

"It must remain constitutionally a matter for each individual judge to decide whether he or she will voluntarily make the contribution in question.

"In order to respect the independence of the judiciary, the individual arrangements between a judge and the Revenue Commissioners for the making of such payments will be confidential."