Witness, My’Lud, the utterances of Judge Mary Devins, sitting at Claremorris District Court, as recalled by the Mayo News of 28th September, questioning the rights of two Polish nationals before her having access to interpreters. "Why", asked the good judge, “when the country is on its knees do we have to pay for a Polish interpreter?”
The two, Rafal and Martin Justa, had the misfortune to find themselves in front of Devins, charged with driving offences. Devins, of course, is famous for flouting the law in the past by repeatedly parking on double yellow lines outside Ballinrobe Courthouse. However, it would appear that those who apply the law don’t necessarily have to abide by it. (see Arrogant judge bans arrogant farmer)
Devins addressed the defendants, asking them how long they had been living in the country. “Seven years”, came the reply. “So you have been in this country for seven years and you haven’t learned at least one of our languages?” was her retort, though the fact that they had already responded to her question in the vernacular should have been answer enough.
I love the Official Ireland artificial indignation of the “at least one of our languages” phrase. I assume Judge Mary was not referring to Polish or forms of Chinese (our most widely spoken second and third languages) when she referred to the plurality of languages spoken in present-day Ireland?
Sure, maybe after seven years living here it might be reasonable to assume the two lads had a fair enough grasp of English to express themselves adequately. But then again, a courtroom is a very intimidating place, especially if Devins is in front of you, and if you are not a native English speaker it is more intimidating still. And there is a precedent for interpretation, after all...
If Devins and her cohorts want to save public money in the courts, they might like to look at their own unaccountable, highly paid, jobs-for-life work culture. While she is at it, and on a more general level, she might also look at the pervasive culture of Fianna Fail. Her hubby, Jimmy, is an FF TD after all.
Finally, she might consider how the courts' money is often squandered on defendants whose mother-tongue is English but who insist on having their cases heard “as Gaeilge” on the basis of it being their “constitutional right”, thanks to De Valera’s reactionary (and consequently out-of-touch) 1937 Constitution.
Let us be consistent, for once.
See O'Cuiv's charter for legal obfuscation
PS Thanks to Mike for this one.
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