Integration Centre: Judge Devins welfare comments 'grossly insulting'

A formal complaint is being lodged with gardaí over comments by a judge comparing social welfare to a "Polish charity".

A formal complaint is being lodged with gardaí over comments by a judge comparing social welfare to a "Polish charity".

The Integration Centre said remarks by Judge Mary Devins were disgraceful and bigoted, and her apology rambling, contrived and spurious.

Last Friday, when Castlebar District Court questioned if there was a Polish charity in Ireland, Judge Devins remarked: “A Polish charity? There is. It’s called the social welfare.”

The Irish Polish Society has accepted the apology, in which the judge said her comment was made in the context of – and alluding to – another recent violent, alcohol-fuelled incident involving several defendants of Polish origin who were all recipients of social welfare payments.

However, Killian Forde, of the Integration Centre, will lodge a complaint at Pearse Street Garda Station under the Garda Racist Reporting Mechanism, which allows any person to report a racist incident even if they have not been the actual victim.

“Given that there is no mechanism to discipline or even to make a formal complaint about judges we feel obliged to take this action in response to Judge Devins’ remark and her opportune and irrelevant so-called apology,” he said.

“The Polish community in Ireland are now the biggest minority in the country and her remarks are, at best, grossly insulting to the tens of thousands of hard-working Poles.

“We could only imagine the horror if a British judge insulted the Irish community in Britain this way.”

Anna Szewc, of the Irish Polish Society, accepted the apology, but warned that people in the judge’s position need to be more careful.

“If it happened again maybe there should be some consequences from that, but you know sometimes people get emotions, you can always explain that with something else,” she said.

The hearing centred on the case of a trainee plumber over a public order offence in which the man had called an Irish security guard a “fat Polish f***er”.

Another judge had ordered the man to save up and pay €1,000 to a Polish charity in lieu of a conviction and a fine.

The case returned before Judge Devins last Friday, when she made the comment which appeared in the Mayo News this week.

The Court Service issued a statement on behalf of the judge which said: “The comment was intended to be specific to that incident and occurrence and was never intended to offend any community, or members of any community.

“If insult was taken from my comment, I apologise for same.”

But Mr Forde said the apology inflamed the insult.

“Her apology seeks to blame those offended by her remark for the insult they took,” he added.

“She needed to give an unequivocal apology to Polish people. This she did not.”

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