The Public Expenditure Minister has said the Government's “hands are tied” over a pay increase for judges.
The Cabinet signed off on a two per cent increase for members of the judiciary and opposition party whips yesterday, while cuts to judges' pensions have also been restored.
The Taoiseach faced backlash over the move in the Dáil on Tuesday, with Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald criticising the approval of the pay increase while student nurses remain unpaid.
Minister Michael McGrath said on Wednesday that the Government had little option but to approve the increase.
“We sought legal advice on this issue over a number of months, our hands are tied,” he said.
“The legal advice is very clear, and very strong that it is not open to Government to amend that act to push it out further, or to set a date for restoration that is so far out into the future that it wouldn’t be credible. These are vested property rights.”
Minister McGrath added that a Government review into pay for student nurses will be completed by the end of this month.
It comes as the Government rejected a motion to pay student nurses one week ago.
“The Government is committed to addressing that issue. There is an allowance paid to student nurses on an educational clinical placement in the years one to three, and then as you know, student nurses are fully paid in year four,” the Minister said.
“There will be a review, it’s at a very advanced stage, it will be over by the end of this month and the Government will make decisions promptly to deal with that.”