Gardaí criticised over handling of allegations against retired judge

Former Kerry judge James O’Connor named by TD under Dáil privilege

Allegations that a former judge abused his position to pursue vulnerable women who were before his court raised “fundamental issues” because the claims were not dealt with comprehensively, according to Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy highlighted allegations made against a Kerry-based former District Court judge who he named under Dáil privilege as James O'Connor.

Mr Murphy said he previously raised the issue in July of allegations about a “gross abuse of power” by the judge who retired in 2018 and allegations of “how he had abused his position, persistently and completely inappropriately to pursue a vulnerable woman, who was before his court on a family law matter, for a sexual relationship”.

During the summer he was contacted by another woman, “who told me a very similar story relating to the same judge. She too was before him on a family law matter”.

The judge “approached her repeatedly, he got her number and then he persistently pursued her”. In one incident he told her he had information for her case and told her to meet him at the backdoor of the courthouse. Once there he said he did not have the paperwork and brought her inside to get it, Mr Murphy said. “Then he lunged at me. I pushed him and left. He obviously felt he could have done anything he wanted to,” Mr Murphy quoted the woman as saying.

He said “the first woman went to the Garda and was told there was nothing to investigate and it was a normal situation of ‘boy meets girl’ ”.

Mr Martin said the first case had gone to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSoc) and there was a "real issue" about how diligently the authorities follow allegations of this nature because "they have not been dealt with comprehensively in this case".

Stressing “governments do not engage in the operational side of prosecution” Mr Martin added however that “this raises fundamental issues” and he will consider the issue “to see how we can proceed”.

Contacted for his response Judge O’Connor said “no comment”.

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