Judge apologises for saying social welfare a Polish charity
A DISTRICT court judge has apologised over a remark she made in court suggesting that social welfare was a Polish charity.
Judge Mary Devins yesterday issued a statement through the Courts Service to clarify a comment made in court in Castlebar last Friday.
The judge 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 several months previously by Judge Conal Gibbons.
Judge Gibbons had adjourned it to a sitting on Friday last after he ordered the man to save up and pay €1,000 to a Polish charity in lieu of a conviction and a fine.
The case returned before Judge Mary Devins last Friday.
When the question arose at Friday’s court hearing over whether there was a Polish charity in Ireland, Judge Devins remarked: “A Polish charity? There is. It’s called the social welfare.”
Judge Devins issued a statement yesterday after the remarks were reported in some Co Mayo newspapers.
She said that the “recent comment in court was made in the context of – and alluding to – another recent, violent, alcohol-fuelled incident”.
The incident had involved “several defendants of Polish origin who were all recipients of social welfare payments”, she said.
The comment was “intended to be specific to that incident and occurrence and was never intended to offend any community, or members of any community”, she said.
“If insult was taken from my comment I apologise for same,” she added.
At Moylette’s court hearing some months previously Judge Gibbons had described the accused man’s abusive remarks as “quasi-racist comments”.
Judge Gibbons said he could not have people going around expressing these sort of ideas and that these views had to be stopped in their tracks.
Judge Devins’s remarks have provoked many comments on social media and online discussion forums in support of the growing Polish community in Ireland.
For the first time there are more Polish nationals living in the State than UK citizens, figures from the 2011 census found.
The number of Polish nationals in Ireland has grown by 94 per cent since 2006. Polish – with 119,526 speakers – was the foreign language most spoken in the home, the census found.