Judge apologises for 'thick Tyrone people' jibe

An outspoken judge today apologised for branding people from County Tyrone typically 'thick'.

An outspoken judge today apologised for branding people from County Tyrone typically 'thick'.

Judge Sean McBride made the outburst last week in Monaghan District Court as he ruled on a case of mistaken identity involving a young woman from the North.

Sarah McGrath, from Donaghmore, Tyrone was facing a public order offence after she was wrongly summonsed to court following a name mix-up.

A legal technicality left her facing a €50 bail bond to have the case thrown out in another court – but she was unable to pay the bill as she only had cash in Sterling.

Frustrated, Judge McBride said the 22-year-old was showing “the typical thickness from Tyrone people”.

The Judge, who was born in Derry and grew up in Donegal, apologised at Clones District Court today and insisted he was trying to help the young woman.

“During a long day’s work, whilst I was trying to assist a lady who was wrongly prosecuted due to mistaken identity, I regret that I passed a comment that was totally inappropriate about Tyrone people,” he said.

“This comment was never meant to be offensive as I have nothing but regard for the people of Tyrone, but clearly to those reading the articles it came across otherwise. For this I apologise.”

Barry McElduff, Sinn Féin MLA for West Tyrone, described the comments as outrageous.

“I welcome his fulsome apology to the court and to the people of Tyrone – this was the talk of the county for the last week,” the MLA said.

Mr McElduff, from Carrickmore in the county, quipped the remark might add to the inter-county rivalry in this summer’s Gaelic football matches.

“We are not good at receiving slights or insults and we don’t take them lying down, but there’s no call to be stirring up problems ahead of the Ulster Football Championship,” he said.

“It was an outrageous remark in the first instance and it was totally unacceptable.”

Mr McElduff said he had written to both Judge McBride and Justice Minister Dermot Ahern urging an apology and also seeking guarantees that Ms McGrath would not be left with a criminal record.

Judge McBride has sparked controversy twice before following outspoken comments in court.

In March last year he was forced to apologise after saying he would blow the head off intruders if they broke into his home.

He made the remarks as he sentenced a man for stealing from a pensioner’s home.

The judge was also criticised last year after saying he was offended by the use of Londonderry and suggesting he was not sure how to spell it.

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