This morning we heard that some Judges are ‘struggling to get by’ on six-figure salaries. This is because their salaries were reduced from €123,000/pa to €111,000/pa during the financial crisis.
Now I will grant you that Ireland is an expensive country to live in but everything is relative. Compared to politicians, for example, the Judges are not doing so well. However, compared to the average citizen, they are swimming in it. According to the CSO Yearbook Of Ireland 2016, the average wage is €45,075 for someone working full-time and €16,332 for those on part-time hours. Lets compare the humble Judge to that majority.
Paddy Average has an amount of €865 a week before tax, PRSI, USB and all the rest are deducted. Even more difficult when you are on average part-time work and you have €314, less tax, to look forward to. The unemployed single man gets €198 to live on. But the struggling Judge though will have his deductions taken from €2,135 that same week. It is more stark when you view it monthly:
Unemployed: – €792
Part-Timer: – €1,256
Full-Timer: – €3,460
Judge: – €8,540
I would suggest to you that when the Judge is perched up there on his bench, he will be meeting and dealing with the unemployed and part-time employed persons more often than anyone else. More often than not the Judge will issue those folks a fine of some kind, with all that means for their meagre resources.
Then there is the minimum wagers. AAA-PBP, TD, Bríd Smith claimed that 25% of the working population are on the minimum wage of €9.25 an hour. That’s €370/week or €1,480/month, presuming they are offered a forty-hour week. However, minimum wage recipients have no guarantee of any such thing and they are at the mercy of employers as to what hours they are offered. If you put together the unemployed, the part-timers, the full-timers and minimum wagers, you are looking at well over half of the working population. Above them in monetary terms are the ‘squeezed middle-classes.’ These people see themselves as the new poor and when you add them to the mix you have almost 90% of the working population. Viewed against a ‘cost of living table’ here, it’s a wonder we’re not all starving in the streets. This really is a damned expensive country to live in.
For example, it is reported currently that average rental price for, (average), accommodation in Dublin stands at €1,200 a month. Looking again at the relative salaries above, which of them would attract a bank loan, (mortgage), to buy instead of rent? We must remember also that Judges are quite a pampered lot. Their uniform of robes is heavily subsidized, court sessions are scheduled to suit the beak, all meals and accommodation is paid for by the State and all of that before we talk generous pensions. What do you think? Are the Judges getting a rough time?
But I suspect there is another explanation for all of this. I have nothing personally against Judges, (except for that arrogant bastard in Kerry who fined me one day in the wrong), and the couple of them I have met socially have been really good and entertaining company. But while they meet the great unwashed every week in large numbers, their private lives are lived miles from the dreay misery they encounter in court. I imagine they choose to live beside and mix with people they consider to be their peers and that could be at the core of the problem.
Take for example, that scurrilous but likable Michael O’Leary of pilot-trouble fame. I’ll just bet he knows a Judge or two around his native Mullingar. Michael has a salary of €3,850,000 a year from his, ahem, part-time job at Ryanair but the Judge across the dinner table from him has a mere €111,000. I imagine the haughty Judge gazing wistfully across at his wealthier intellectual inferior and muttering, “There’s just no justice in the world.” It is the sort of thing that positively breeds discontent.
But like I said at the beginning, everything is relative.