Judge issues full apology after threat of Garda complaint

The judge who likened the social welfare system to a “Polish charity” yesterday issued a full apology after one group threatened to lodge an official complaint with gardaí.

A formal complaint was to have been lodged with gardaí at Pearse St station in Dublin by the Integration Centre over the remarks made last Friday by Judge Mary Devins in the District Court in Castlebar, Co Mayo.

The organisation had also asked Judge Devins to either explain herself or consider her position after labelling her initial apology “rambling, contrived, and spurious”.

Initially Judge Devins had claimed her remarks in court were made with specific reference to the case before her, and that “if insult was taken from my comment, I apologise for same”.

In a climb-down yesterday, she issued a fresh apology: “I unreservedly and without qualification apologise for my off the cuff comments at a recent court case. I understand and accept the hurt these comments caused to members of the Polish community. This was never my intention and I express my sorrow for same.

“My previous clarification was an attempt to provide a context and was not intended in any way to dilute my apology for such unwarranted comments.”

Following this, the Integration Centre said it would not proceed with its complaint to gardaí. “In light of Judge Mary Devins’s new, unreserved apology to the Polish community and those affected by her bigoted remarks, we have decided not to proceed with our complaint.

“However, we will continue to monitor statements made by public servants, including judges, and where we think appropriate make interventions utilising whatever mechanisms exist in the State.”

The Integration Centre is a non-governmental organisation, with 250 affiliated bodies, committed to the integration and inclusion of people from immigrant backgrounds.

The Show Racism the Red Card group said the judge’s comments in court were “bizarre” while Jan Kaminski, a committee member of the Polish Irish society, said the comments offered the wrong image of “Polish people milking the Irish cow”.

A spokesperson for the Polish Embassy said the ambassador and staff were not in a position to make any comment on Judge Devins’s remarks due to her position on the judiciary.

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