Man guilty of assaulting schoolteacher


A father of two schoolchildren was yesterday found guilty of assaulting a school principal at the rural Co Clare primary school where he worked.

In the assault at the school perpetrated by Martin Tubridy (55), the principal at Labasheeda National School, Liam Woulfe, suffered two black eyes, a swollen nose and a broken tooth.

The court heard that Tubridy, Quarry Vale House, Mountshannon, Labasheeda, Co Clare, punched Mr Woulfe in the face on December 9th last at the door of Mr Woulfe’s classroom after coming to see him over his son being put out on the line earlier that day.

In evidence, Mr Woulfe told the court that Tubridy said: “You have been at my son all week.” Mr Woulfe said he told Tubridy that he could not deal with him now as he was dealing with another parent and asked could he arrange a meeting at a further date.

Left the building

Mr Woulfe – who has been the principal at the two-teacher Labasheeda school for the past 18 years – said he was then punched in the face by Tubridy, who then left the building.

The principal said: “I recoiled back into the classroom due to the force of the blow. I was shocked and dazed.”

A parent, Caroline O’Shea, who was talking to Mr Woulfe at the time, told the court she saw Tubridy strike Mr Woulfe in the face.

Mr Woulfe confirmed that he had a meeting with Tubridy and his wife, Monica, five weeks before the incident over how he dealt with a situation in the schoolyard.

Mr Woulfe told the court: “I have been a teacher for 27 years and I have always treated parents with the utmost respect. I have always had an open door for parents.”

The court was told that since the incident the Tubridys had withdrawn their two children from the school.

Tubridy told the court that Mr Woulfe sustained the injuries as he acted in self defence against Mr Woulfe trying to barge at him.

Distressing case

In sentencing, Judge Patrick Durcan said he found the case distressing to deal with “as I am saddened to see such divisions in Labasheeda over issues that centre around the septic relations between the two parties in this case”.

The judge said that because of the poor relations between the parties, “Mr Tubridy was entering a war zone when he entered the school on the day”.

He said that he fully accepted the evidence of Mr Woulfe and rejected Tubridy’s evidence on the assault.

He said: “There are no winners in this and the side that appears the winners will lose.”

The judge added: “This is not merely a cruel conviction. There is something in all of this that is devastating to a rural community. It is septic to everyone who is here. It is damaging to children because in every house tonight in Labasheeda, people will be talking about this and every little child will hear about it.”

He adjourned the case for one hour for the sides to aim to resolve the issues. He said Mr Woulfe and Tubridy were honourable and decent people.

After the hour, Supt Gerry Wall said Tubridy and Mr Woulfe had shaken hands and Tubridy had apologised to Mr Woulfe. Judge Durcan adjourned the case to April 9th to see how talks progressed and ordered Tubridy to pay €400 in expenses.