Saturday 29 September 2007

Judge defies Shell to Sea hate mail

A SLIGO-based district judge has been getting hate mail over the fall-out from the “Shell to Sea” protests in County Mayo. Judge Mary Devins has revealed that hate mail has been sent to her following cases she dealt with in connection with the protests. Some of the mail was signed, but the “cowards” who had sent unsigned mail had shown their ignorance of her, she told the court.

Some of this mail involved print-outs of various indy-media and newspaper reports. The judge - who is the wife of Sligo-North Leitrim TD and junior government minister Dr Jimmy Devins - told Belmullet district court that she was satisfied about her neutrality in the cases - despite the letters. “I am quite satisfied as to my independence” she said. “I am not a coward.” She said she considered the independence of the judiciary to be sacrosanct, and said that in her eight years on the bench in Mayo, if people went back to check, her independence would be very obvious. The judge said she was not barring herself from hearing three cases which related to the Shell protests, on the basis that she may be perceived to be influenced by previous cases or by the threatening letters she received. A defending solicitor - Alan Gannon - made the application saying ‘justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done’. He said he did not support the fact the judge had received “hate mail”, which he said was wrong. But he was concerned that a reasonable person sitting in the court might be concerned that perhaps justice was not seen to be done. Judge Devins said she had got hate mail over other cases and it had not affected her judgement. “Not a single thing has ever influenced my decisions,” she said. “When I am sitting on the bench that is all I am, a judge of the district court. I am not a coward”. Four defendants appeared before Belmullet district court in connection with disturbances at the “Shell to Sea” protest at Bellanaboy. The cases were adjourned for hearing until October 19.

Gerry McLaughlin
Sligo Weekender

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