County Sheriff challenges rule he must retire at 70

Courts Officers Act stipulates that Sheriffs must retire from office once they reach 70 years of age
County Sheriff challenges rule he must retire at 70

Co Monaghan-based Sherrif Seamus Mallon has brought a High Court challenge aimed at setting aside the Minister for Justice's decision that he must retire when he turns 70 years of age next year.

Castleblayney-based Mr Mallon, who is a qualified solicitor, was appointed Sheriff under the 1945 Courts Officers Act in 1987.

The Act also stipulates that Sheriffs must retire from office once they reach 70 years of age.

Mr Mallon is a member of the Sheriffs Association, which last year made a formal submission to the Minister for Justice seeking to have the 1945 Act amended to extend the mandatory retirement age for Sheriffs.

In a reply, issued on behalf of the Minister last April, the association's request was refused.

Judicial review

In his judicial review proceedings against the Minister for Justice, Ireland and the Attorney General Mr Mallon claims that the section of the 1945 Act regarding mandatory retirement is discriminatory on the grounds of age.

He also claims that the Minister's decision is flawed due to the Minister's failure to say why the mandatory retirement age for Sheriffs should be maintained at 70 years.

Mr Mallon also claims that the Minister's decision in not compatible with EU directives on equal treatment in employment, because the Minister failed to provide any objective and reasonable justification for the mandatory retirement age.

In his action he seeks an order from the court quashing the Minister's decision that requires him to retire when he turns 70 years old in May 2022.

He also seeks a declaration that that section of the 1945 Act is incompatible with EU law, and it the section is therefore null, void and of no legal effect.

Permission to bring the challenge was granted on an ex-parte basis, by Mr Justice Anthony Barr.

The case comes back before the court in November.

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