Fresh apology over Polish remarks

Thu, Aug 2, 2012, 01:00

A District Court judge has offered a second and "unreserved apology" for last week saying social welfare was a Polish charity.

Judge Mary Devins made the remark during a court sitting in Castlebar, Co Mayo last Friday.

She apologised in a statement released yesterday by the Courts Service, which explained that the “recent comment in court was made in the context of – and alluding to – another recent, violent, alcohol-fuelled incident”.

Judge Devins today issued another statement in which she said her earlier clarification was designed to provide context and was “not intended in any way to dilute my apology for such unwarranted comments”.

“I unreservedly and without qualification apologise for my off the cuff comments at a recent court case,” she said.

“I understand and accept the hurt these comments caused to members of the Polish community. This was never my intention and I express my sorrow for same.”

Judge Devins made the remark while hearing the case of a trainee plumber over a public order offence in which the man had called an Irish security guard a “fat Polish f***er”.

Enda Moylette, of Derrycoorane, Islandeady, Castlebar, had pleaded guilty when his case was heard months previously by Judge Conal Gibbons.

The case was adjourned to a sitting on Friday last, before Judge Devins, after Judge Gibbons ordered the man to save up and pay €1,000 to a Polish charity in lieu of a conviction and a fine.

When the question arose on Friday over whether there was a Polish charity in Ireland, Judge Devins remarked: “A Polish charity? There is. It’s called the social welfare.”

The Integration Centre, an organisation which assists refugees and immigrants in Ireland, had said it intended to lodge a formal complaint with An Garda Síochána over the comments.

It said the remarks were disgraceful and bigoted, and that Judge Devins’ apology was rambling, contrived and spurious.

However, the organisation has now opted against the move following the second apology.

Anna Szewc, of the Irish Polish Society, accepted the apology, but warned that people in the judge’s position need to be more careful.

“If it happened again maybe there should be some consequences from that, but you know sometimes people get emotions, you can always explain that with something else,” she said.

Additional reporting - PA