Parent fined €750 for assaulting school principal

Judge says ‘a septic atmosphere’ exists in rural west Clare community


A judge said yesterday that “a septic atmosphere” exists in a rural west Clare community where a parent assaulted a school principal.

At Kilrush District Court yesterday, Martin Tubridy (55), Mountshannon, Labasheeda, Co Clare, was fined €750 for the assault on Liam Woulfe, school principal of the two-teacher Labasheeda NS, on December 9th, 2011.

Judge Patrick Durcan told the court that evidence was heard that Mr Woulfe suffered a swollen nose, a black eye and a dislodged tooth when punched by Tubridy while talking to another parent in the school.

The court had already heard that Tubridy punched Mr Woulfe after coming to see him over his son being put out on the line earlier that day.

Mr Woulfe told the court that Tubridy had said: “You have been at my son all week.” Tubridy withdrew his two children from the school after the assault.

Judge Durcan told Tubridy he “was not entitled to walk into his school and assault the school principal”.

He added: “An assault on a school principal under any circumstances, but particularly in a small area, is a very serious offence.”In a small community a school principal was “deserving of a certain level of respect”.

‘Septic atmosphere’
The judge said that Tubridy had struck out “to cause serious harm”.

He had adjourned sentencing from last November to see if mediation efforts between the two men could make any progress because the imposition of orders could have an impact on Labasheeda National School and the community.

“It struck me at the time that there was more to all of this than met the eye,” Judge Durcan said. “I am led to the conclusion that there is a septic atmosphere and there is something wrong out in Labasheeda that needs to be addressed. I am not being satisfied that issues that exist have been addressed in any meaningful way.”

Judge Durcan said he noted that a Department of Education report on the school was very positive towards the school and the teaching staff.

Tubridy’s solicitor Fiona Hehir said the publicity had taken its toll on him and his family life. She handed testimonials into court, including one from a parish priest that described him as placid and very friendly.