Ennis judge urges ‘golden’ couple to enter mediation

A judge has told a couple due to celebrate their 50th golden wedding anniversary later this year that if they were to go against each other in court, it may contaminate the next stage of their life.

At the Family Law Court in Ennis, Judge Patrick Durcan said that a Clare woman had recounted how her husband of 49 years slapped her after breaking plates and verbally abused her in the kitchen of their home.

Judge Durcan told the husband: “Your wife contacted the gardaí and they spoke to you and they asked you to give an undertaking that you would live in peace and you refused that. On that basis, gardaí advised your wife to seek a protection order.”

The woman has secured a protection order that offers temporary protection and was seeking a safety order that can provide more permanent protection from the courts.

Asked to comment on the incident and his wife’s application by Judge Durcan, the man replied: “I think it is much ado about nothing.”

Judge Durcan advised the two to go down the mediation route rather than thrashing out the issues in court.

He told the man, who was without legal representation in the case: “You have the right to contest the application or consent to the granting of the safety order or avail of a time span to have issues mediated by a court mediator.”

Judge Durcan said: “Your wife will be sworn in and you have the right to cross-examine and you will give evidence and your wife’s solicitor will have the right to cross-examine you.

“It does seem to be, on the eve of your 50th anniversary of marriage, that it is not a very appropriate thing to do and the next stage of life can be compromised and contaminated if the court heard evidence here today.”

Judge Durcan added: “Rather than press that button, there may be wisdom spending time with a court mediator rather than thrashing it out in court.”

The husband said: “I agree.”

Ann Walsh, solicitor for the wife, said the mediation should take place within a month.

On behalf of her client, Ms Walsh said: “I wouldn’t like to go beyond that because there are ongoing tensions in the home.”

Judge Durcan said: “I hope things work out for you. The protection order remains in place and the applicant in this case remains under court protection.”

Addressing the couple, Judge Durcan said: “I would encourage both of you to sit back, realise where you are, realise the difficulties and if you have to be open to accommodate the other be prepared to move 55%.”

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