After a 10-month wait the Department of Justice have finally formally replaced the venerable Judge John Neilan, when Judge Seamus Hughes took to the bench in Athlone District Court on Wednesday (March 9 ). He had already sat in Longford on Tuesday and completed his initiation in Court District No9 on Thursday when he introduced himself to Mullingar.
Judge Hughes, a former Fianna Fáil TD and State Solicitor in his native Mayo, was appointed a District Court judge in August 2009, and was originally appointed to cover the Donegal area in December of that year.
Whilst serving there, he suggested a 38-year-old man from Rathmullan, Co Donegal climb Croagh Patrick as a show of remorse, after he was charged with drunkenly abusing a garda, telling him “to f*** off home to Mayo”.
In Athlone this week, Mr Paul Connellan welcomed Judge Hughes to Athlone on behalf of the members of the legal profession and wished him “a long and happy tenure in Court District 9”. Superintendent Aidan Glacken echoed these sentiments.
“Today is not a day for long speeches, but I’m grateful for your words,” said Judge Hughes.
“I hope to be here for the next 11 and a half years although you don’t know. I had expected to be in District 1 [Donegal] for 13 years, but when the Minister gives you your P45 you have to go,” he said.
“However, I’m not expecting to deal with as many road traffic accidents and drink driving as I did in Donegal,” he added.
Judge Hughes is a twin from a well known family of 13 from Westport, and is married to Maria, with four children.
He qualified as a solicitor in 1975 and initially served on Mayo County Council before being elected to Dáil Eireann in 1992, serving just one term until 1997.
In 1984 he ran the Dublin City Marathon with his seven brothers, which resulted in their entry in the Guinness Book of Records.