In today's Indo there's an article on a young 20 year old woman, who going by the story is to say the least marginalised and troubled (drugs, drink etc) This girl stole €40 from a nun of the Sisters of Mercy, yes, admittedly a not so nice thing to do. She then appears before one Judge Patrick Durcan at Ennis district court and despite a gulity plea is sentenced to 4 months in prison.........for stealing €40. Yeah, must be a month for every tenner.......Now what peaked my interest was the reaction, in my opinion an over the top reaction, by the judge in question, reportedly the judge said "we had, in the past, in this country a society where we recognised the tremendous contribution in education, health and charity on the part of the Sisters of Mercy".........."We now have a society where people show disrespect and scant regard [presumably he's referring to religious], and this type of behaviour by this defendant I regard as absolutely vile and appalling behaviour". I wonder Judge, are these the same Sisters of Mercy who engaged in abuse as outlined by the Ryan Report? I wonder Judge, had she stolen €40 from someone who wasn't a member of a religious order would she have gotten 4 months in prison?...........
But that is not all, I decided to do a little digging on this noble and fair judge, it turns out that the dear judge is a Knight of a Catholic Order called the The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem , aka, The Order of the Holy Sepulchre (hit the link and scroll down, Durcan's having his pic taken with the Apostolic Nuncio, capes and all) It has to be asked whether this judge should have excused himself from hearing that case, has his allegiance to a Catholic Order influenced his handing down of a 4 month sentence to a troubled girl for stealing €40 from a Catholic nun? Is he compromised by the fact that he is a Catholic Knight passing judgement on a theft from a Catholic nun? To me his reaction suggests he is. Had this judge been a judge in the good old days of the 1950's this young woman may well have been sent to an industrial school with the same gusto and condemnation as shown by this judge towards a girl whose crime from my point of view was not in itself that she stole the paltry sum of €40 but that she stole €40 from a nun.......how dare she! I believe this judge has questions to answer in how he handled this case. Punishment should always be commensurate to the crime, the punishment of 4 months in prison for stealing €40 is not commensurate to the crime.
Having once upon a time worked in a solicitors office which dealt with the Residential Institutions Redress Board I know that many of those who are now drug addicts, homeless and alcoholics are so as a result, wholly or in part, of the abuse they suffered at the hands of the all loving and compassionate Catholic Church which Judge Durcan is so proud to be a "Knight" of. What I find galling is his dismissive attitude towards a young woman with problems, problems which for all we know are the result of abuse in the first instance. We often wonder how on earth did young women end up in the atrocious conditions of industrial schools for minor transgressions in times gone by? How? In my opinion partly because of the likes of Judge Durcan and others, that's how. In my opinion this judge has questions to answer.
Edit: Broadsheet.ie have picked up the story http://www.broadsheet.ie/2013/06/14/judge-of-the-day-8/