Following the sentencing today of former District Judge Heather Perrin by the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Minister Shatter said "It is of the utmost importance that a client can trust a solicitor acting on his or her behalf to properly implement his or her instructions. Members of the legal profession are in a particular position of trust and to ensure confidence in the profession all solicitors must honestly implement instructions received and at all times act in an appropriate manner. This obligation of course also attaches to any member of the legal profession who aspires to hold judicial office. The conviction last week of Heather Perrin in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court and her sentencing today starkly illustrates the importance of the highest standards of honesty being observed. The victims in this case are to be greatly commended for their fortitude in seeing this difficult and distressing criminal prosecution through to conviction.
I had been considering, in consultation with the Attorney General, initiating the impeachment process prescribed in the Constitution subsequent to today’s sentencing of Heather Perrin. However, her resignation as a judge of the District Court on Monday evening has resulted in such process being no longer relevant or necessary."
28 November 2012
Note for Editors
Heather Perrin was nominated by the then Government for appointment to the District Court on 16 October 2008 and appointed by the President on 12 February 2009. The issue which is the subject of the criminal proceedings was drawn to the attention of the Department by letter on 14 April 2010 and forwarded to the Garda Commissioner.
The listing of judges is a matter for the President of the relevant court. Judge Perrin last sat in the District Court in June 2010 and it is understood she has not been listed for sitting by the President of the District Court since that time and has been on medical leave. Under Article 35.5 of the Constitution, a judge’s salary may not be reduced except in the specific circumstances approved in last year’s Referendum on Judges’ Pay. There is, therefore, no legal provision to withhold a judge’s pay while on sick leave. Her salary ceased with effect from the date of her resignation, i.e., 26 November 2012.
Under the Constitution the pension entitlements of a judge are regulated by legislation which is the responsibility of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. There is no legal provision for these pensions to be withheld or refused.
Twenty years service is required for a full pension in the District Court and a pro rata pension may be paid after five years if retiring on established medical grounds. However, under the Pensions Act 1990 (as amended) a person who has served a minimum of two years is entitled to apply for a preserved pension on reaching 65 years.
Alternatively, a judge over the age of 60 who has served a minimum of two years may apply for Cost Neutral Early Retirement (provided for in the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and Other Provisions) Act 2012). Under this scheme benefits are payable immediately subject to cost neutral reduction on an actuarial basis.