Judge John Neilan is accusing the clinical director of St Loman’s Psychiatric Hospital in Mullingar of misleading the court.
He threatened to issue a warrant for the arrest of Dr Mary O’Hanlon if she did not appear by 2.15pm to explain the contents of a letter which he said was ‘false and misleading’.
“If the HSE…thinks it can bully or browbeat Judge Neilan, they can forget it,” he said.
He was speaking at Mullingar District Court as he dealt with a homeless woman who was a voluntary patient at the hospital.
Catherine O’Brien had previously been granted bail while she was receiving treatment at the hospital, but the judge said he would “not tolerate” a letter written by Dr O’Hanlon which said he had directed that Ms O’Brien be admitted.
Rather, he had been informed that Ms O’Brien was receiving ongoing treatment there and would have a bed. He granted her bail while she was there, on condition Gardaí be informed if she was leaving of her own accord or being discharged.
He said he was perfectly aware that his “writ does not run to St Loman’s Hospital” but is limited to prisons and detention centres.
He was also critical of a previous letter written by HSE staff which alleged he had made public confidential information relating to a patient.
Dr Mary O’Hanlon, clinical director of St Loman’s Psychiatric Hospital appeared at the court at 12.30pm and agreed that she had been one of those who had complained about the judge.
He said he had given her and the other officers an opportunity to come to court and present their complaints in a public forum and under oath but they had declined
He said he had “personally” attended at St Loman’s Hospital, not as a judge and not in any formal capacity, seeking unsuccessfully to have a woman admitted.
“You took that as I had related information regarding a person before the court,” he accused Dr O’Hanlon.
“If you want to make allegations, check your records,” he said, adding that he had spent considerable time waiting for a doctor to come down to deal with the woman.
He said he had to attend court in Longford and had been on his way – it was around Christmas time and the roads were bad, when he got a call at Lanesboro to say the woman had been put into a taxi and sent home.
“It had nothing to do with any person before the court,” said the judge.
“I go very quietly about my business and don’t use my authority to influence doctors or directors,” he said, adding that he would “never abuse my position”.
“You didn’t know who I was talking about when you made that complaint,” he told the doctor, suggesting that perhaps she might “reflect” on it.
He said he had been personally dealing with someone who had “particular medical problems but you turn that into an allegation that I was relating confidential information”.
“I was speaking of a personal experience of bringing a person on two occasions in one day.”