Only the Garda Síochána escaped the wrath of Judge John Neilan at the recent sitting of Mullingar District Court. Not even Thierry Henry and French President Nicolas Sarkozy were spared.
He criticised solicitors who asked their colleagues to seek adjournments on their behalf and said he could not accommodate their diaries and threatened to send their cases to the president of the District Court.
He sent gardaí on two occasions to the lobby of the courthouse to ask people assembled there to “quieten down”.
“Tell them to come in or go out,” he said, unhappy that they were “talking shop outside”.
He asked how he was supposed to run a court when there was no Polish interpreter present and told one man with almost no English to “suíogh síos agus lig do scith,” or “sit down and relax” until one was called.
He later dismissed that interpreter for incompetence, saying that the court would not hire him or Word Perfect, the company he works for, again.
A man who appeared on a bench warrant inspired the judge to comment that “as and from January 2, anybody who fails to respond to their bail will not be getting bail without a cash lodgement”.
“It’s great to know you can float into court,” he told the Mullingar man.
Journalists who don’t question the HSE, Minister Mary Harney and Professor Brendan Drumm were also criticised when the judge dealt with the case of a 21-year-old man who is functionally illiterate after being in the HSE’s care for eight years.
“Perhaps they’ll run up the minute they get a statement out of this court,” he said, adding that if he said anything “offensive to anybody” the press were “quick to run to print”.
As he fined a man for drink driving after he came into town to watch a match, he asked if Section 4 of the Theft Act should not apply to Thierry Henry.
“Does Mr Sarkozy believe that that sort of cheating is appropriate,” he said, acknowledging that if Mr Aaron Fahy had been watching the Irish match before drink driving “I wouldn’t blame him for making a stupid decision”.
Mr Fahy was fined €500 and disqualified for three years for an offence on June 7 when he was stopped at a checkpoint with 67mg alcohol/100ml breath.
“I was intrigued to hear Mr Dunphy say last night why didn’t Mr Henry go over to the sideline and acknowledge his failure,” he said, pointing out that he doesn’t always listen to Eamon Dunphy.