Judge John Neilan has slammed RTÉ and broadcaster Dave Fanning for comments made about his banning seven Longford men from wearing hoodies.
“If that’s all Fanning and his ilk have to do, using taxpayers’ money to run their programme, I suggest they come to court to understand the fears, anxieties, and worries of ordinary decent people.”
These people are “constantly being threatened and intimidated by gangs of males and sometimes females,” he added.
He said he was “sick and tired of commentators in their ivory towers who are not prepared to come down here and see how people are intimidated,” and he gave the example of the elderly who are “taunted and threatened by gangs of youths, hooded up to the eyeballs”.
At Mullingar District Court yesterday, he said he became aware of the comments about his order as he happened upon Dave Fanning’s radio programme during which, he said, Mr Fanning and a clothes designer had been discussing hooded garments.
He took the opportunity to make the points as he imposed bail conditions on Gary Moore, 6 Valley Bungalows, Mullingar who is charged with a number of offences including trespass causing fear at the home of a family in The Downs, Mullingar.
He said he was happy for everyone else in the country to wear a hooded garment over Christmas so that Mr Moore could be identified and stressed that the ban referred to public places, telling the defendant “if you want to wear a hooded garment in bed like the fashion designer, feel free to do so”.
Judge Neilan said he had imposed a ban on seven defendants at Longford District Court because they were “habitual criminals with a litany of previous convictions” who were presenting problems at a variety of stores.
He compared them to the Magnificent Seven, but added that this was a wholly inappropriate title for them.
The judge defended the ban, saying he deemed it appropriate when dealing with habitual criminals “whose sole purpose is to try and defeat the Gardaí with hoods pulled right down over their eyes”.
In those cases, he said, CCTV is of no use, whether provided by the business community or retail outlets. He added that if everyone was to wear a hooded garment, other than the people he’s dealing with, he would have no objection, once Gardaí have the “maximum opportunity to identify” individuals who persistently cause trouble.
He said it was his job to “vindicate the rights of the little people of this country who are constantly threatened and intimidated” and suggested that RTÉ remember that it is a statutory body which uses taxpayers’ money and has obligations to the people.
“If RTÉ has nothing better to do, I suggest they send Fanning to the courts at Chancery Street or here.”