Wednesday, 11 February 2009

"Arrogant" judge bans "arrogant" farmer.

Mayo Judge, Mary Devins, has described a farmer who let a line of traffic build up behind his tractor as “arrogant and individualistic”. She banned the driver, Michael Nevin, for one year – though he maintained he had pulled over at the earliest opportunity to let traffic pass. Nevin, who is also an experienced Bus Eireann driver whose livelihood could be adversely affected by the ban, plans to appeal the sentence.

Mary Devins has something of a reputation for handing out sentences that could be perceived as disproportionate and controversial by those on their receiving end. Indeed, some of her victims might well have muttered the term “arrogant and individualistic” to describe her as they left her courtroom. In their more charitable moments, that is.

The same judge has repeatedly courted controversy by consistently parking on double yellow lines outside Ballinrobe Courthouse - a practice recently highlighted (according to the Western People), by local councillor Harry Walsh. It seems that the issue of a District Court judge blatantly flauting the law - while doling out sentences to others - has raised the hackles of some locals.

“Lawmakers should not be lawbreakers”, Walsh reasonably maintains, adding “I honestly don’t see why a judge, or any servant of the State, or anyone else going into town for business should be allowed to flaunt the law by parking on double-yellow lines... I can see why prison vehicles and garda cars need to be adjacent, but not a private car.”

It seems Devins flauts the law with the full co-operation of the local gardai and the Courts Service, who cite “reasons of security”.

Reasons of security? Is it any wonder?


Bernd said...

Nearly drowned laughing in my bathtub yesterday when listening to a phone-in show on this topic.

One caller voiced the opinion that tractors and agri-machinery should be banned from the roads anyway, as they cause delays and dangers. He pointed out that using tractors especially on country roads is a danger to life and limb of other road users.

I think there is a connection between "country roads" and "tractors" that goes beyond culchie boy racers having fun ...

The Gombeen Man said...

Would like to have heard that show, Bernd.

OK, is some issue there about farm machinery using the roads - there's no doubt they pose a danger and a delay to other traffic, especially over longer distances and on busier roads. And, on a petty level, are they taxed for the road? But then again, if a farmer is just going from one separated field to the next, I can understand it... how else can he do it? And as you say, it is the countryside. But...

A friend of mine lives in Galway, and he swears that there was a culture of young lads taking tractors to the local barn dance at one time. Though whether that is a rural myth or not, I don't know!!! Maybe it was in the days before they had Imprezas??


I forgot to say: the worst thing about this is that the guy got a year's driving ban for this, from a judge who seems to be a law onto herself.

She seems to think of herself as a bit of a "show judge", handing out "controversial" sentences, seemingly for the sake of it. Who judges the judges, I wonder?

I think the only way to be safe, is to avoid Mayo altogether!!!!!!

Bernd said...

There are three issues here, Gombeen Man:

Issue One: The judge has imho lost all sense of proportion and reality in passing such judgement. Funnily enough no campaign such as the "Free Nally" abomination seems to spring up in the media.

Issue Two: Tractors and agri-machinery are a necessary evil of the countryside. And yes, farmers can be morons in not using lights at all or crossing from field to field via a public road without due care. But a general ban on tractors is demented.

Issue Three: You are right, the tractor is used as transport by culchie lads on a provisional (apparently this is legal), witness my neighbour ... no insurance, no tax, leaking oil, but it gets you around, eh?

What it boils down to ... even if the guy in question had twenty cars trailing behind him for miles, he has broken no law. If he was driving without insurance, he deserves a ban. And if he would have been driving at night with faulty lights and killed somebody he deserves a life sentence for aggravated manslaughter.

But what did he do? Apparently just drive a tractor legally on a country road, causing some upright citizens to slow down.

Whatever that judge was smoking, can I have some?

The Gombeen Man said...

Ha ha. So it isn't a rural myth after all!!! Thanks for that.

As I say, Bernd, it's not the first time that this judge has issued an over-the-top conviction. She seems to revel in it. I think some kind of legislation is required to ensure judicial competency and consistency... after all, these people have the power to ruin peoples' lives. And in fairness, our friend on the tractor didn't do that.

Anonymous said...

Tractors are indeed used by young people in rural areas as a means of getting around. One can legally drive one at 14. The insurance is dirt cheap (and AFIK helps build up a No claims record for when graduates to a proper car) and can be run on agricultural diesel although strictly speaking this should only be done when travelling within or between fields but as both enforcment and compliance is totally impractical....

Tractors and other slow moving vehicles are supposed to (where possible to do so safely) pull over to allow faster vehicles pass. Whether there is an actual law to this effect or whether its (like so much in rural Ireland) just generally accepted custom and practive Im not sure put presuumably its the former given that a judge has banned a guy over it (then again).

Given that people get for more serious transgressions banning a guy for a year is a bit OTT I would have thought. A more appropriate penelty for a first offence would have been a fine not exceeding two shillings and sixpence while for a second offence death by hanging would seem pretty reasonable.

Anonymous said...

Same judge

The Gombeen Man said...

Thanks for that gem, Last Anon. Sorry it's not showing up as link - don't know why. Do you have a report on this somewhere? I'll post it up if you do.

Previous Anon: "for a second offence death by hanging would seem pretty reasonable."
Jasus... don't start giving her ideas!!

Anonymous said...

Dont think theres anything online (The local papers in Mayo dont have much in the way of online archives) If youre ever in Castlebar on one of the rare occasions when the library is open you could look up the Connaught telegraph microfilm archives for Jan 2000. (If youre really that desperate to see it of course).

I actually had a soft spot for the judge in question onetime (needless to say short lived.)
after she threw out a case against a guy charged with public urination in Westport. She said she would strike out all similar charges brought before her until the public toilets in the town were reopened (The council had closed them in an attempt to eradicate homosexuality but thats another story)

The Gombeen Man said...

Notice your use of the term"short lived" ;-)

Grand, thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Judge Devins is responsible for the cases involving those who oppose the building of the experimental high pressure gas pipeline in Erris. She has become quite famous among protesters for her sometimes bizarre outbursts. Some sample cases can be seen here:

The Gombeen Man said...

I think it's scandalous that judiciary in this country seem to be unaccountable to anyone - and can do what they like while working handy hours for megabucks right up until their dotage.

Thanks for the link.