Judge apologises for ‘incorrect’ Muslim remark

Anthony Halpin asks for ‘forgiveness’ over ‘hurt caused’ by ‘unfortunate’ reference made in court

Judge Anthony Halpin was presiding over Tallaght District Court on Thursday when he made the comments. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

Judge Anthony Halpin was presiding over Tallaght District Court on Thursday when he made the comments. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

 

A district court judge has apologised for an “unfortunate and incorrect remark” which he made about Muslims in court.

Judge Anthony Halpin made the remark that “Muslims think they can actually beat their wives,” in Tallaght District Court on Thursday. Civil liberties and migrant groups had yesterday urged him to withdraw the comments .

In a statement issued today Judge Halpin said he “had no intention of referring to, or offending Muslims or their religion” and apologised for the hurt caused and asked for their “forgiveness”.

The remark had “attracted some attention which gives the impression” that he holds views “ less than favourable to the Muslim religion”, he said.

“I would like to state that nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.

“ I accept that I made the remark, but what I intended to say, and should have said, was that people who beat their partners do not appreciate the provisions of safety or protection orders, and they need intervention and education in that regard,” he said.

The apology and clarification was welcomed by the Immigrant Council of Ireland. His “reassurance that he had no intention of offending Muslims or their religion is particularly welcome and we accept the apology to that community is genuine,” the organisation said in a statement today.

“This episode again underlines the need for people in authority to reflect on the impact their remarks, even those made off the cuff or in the heat of the moment, can have on the wider public and feed into stereotypes which are wrong and offensive,” it added.

Yesterday the organisation had described the judge’s remarks as “disappointing, wrong and offensive” and requested he withdraw or clarify them immediately.

Mark Kelly, director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), said yesterday that the case had shone further light on the need for a judicial council Bill, a part of which would provide mechanisms to deal with complaints against the conduct of judges.

The Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland said yesterday that in this case it was restricted in what it could say due to the limited nature of the comments as reported in the media.

Spokesman Dr Ali Selim explained he was “not fully aware of the full context of what was said” but added: “I firmly believe that a woman’s position is a source of pride for every Muslim woman according to Islam.”

Judge Halpin made his remark as he was dealing with a Somali man accused of burgling his now divorced wife’s house.

Khadar Younis (46), Belfry Hall, Citywest, had pleaded not guilty to burglary, contravening a protection order and possession of a knife at an address at Fernwood Avenue, Springfield, Tallaght, on May 10th, 2013.