Judge blames agencies for street fighter’s unemployment

A judge railed against State agencies set up to help find people employment during a case where the defendant complained against the difficulties of getting back into employment or training.

“I don’t want to get hot under the collar, but I can’t see why this man can’t become a plumber or a fitter, or a shaper. How many blocklayers did we train, even after the bottom had fallen out of the building industry?” asked Judge Seamus Hughes in the case of Jamie Flanagan (20 ) from Portumna, Co Galway.

“These people out there on big salaries who’re supposed to find him a job, they should be taken out and put against a wall...” he continued before pausing: “I won’t say what I would do to them. I blame the system, not this man”.

Flanagan was in the District Court in Athlone for giving a false name and address to the gardaí after being arrested for fighting in the streets of Ferbane, Co Offaly in the early hours of April 6.

Judge Hughes was curious as to how Garda Derry Sheehy knew the details given were false.

“Judge, he gave an address near Eyrecourt [Co Galway]. I know some people from this area through the hurling, and when I asked him about them he didn’t seem to know them. Judge, when he was searched in the station we found his passport in one of his pockets,” said the garda.

Flanagan explained he was from a family of seven, had dropped out of university in Galway for financial reasons, had gone to London, but returned to Portumna.

He told how he had hurled in both London and Portumna, and since returning home “every firm in Ballinasloe has my CV.”

After hearing how Flanagan had previous convictions for theft and criminal damage, the judge commented: “You’ve been a busy man since you came back from London. Maybe you could teach hurling behind the walls of Castlerea prison”.

After Flanagan protested that he couldn’t reapply to college for another year because of red tape, and couldn’t start an apprenticeship without being taken on by an employer first, the judge went on his rant against the State agencies.

“I’m worried about him. He seems to have a lovely personality, but he should be doing something. The State should take him by the scruff of the neck and throw him into a software job. I don’t want him lying around doing nothing, I want to see concrete proposals,” said the judge before referring Flanagan to the Probation Service for a report, and issuing a final warning.

“Guard, if this one is running around Ferbane acting the goat, all bets are off,” he said.


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