A FATHER who assaulted his son's school principal after classes had ended has been fined €750.
Martin Tubridy (55), of Quarry Vale, Mountshannon, Labasheeda, Co Clare, assaulted Liam Woulfe at Labasheeda National School on December 9, 2011.
Judge Patrick Durcan told Kilrush District Court yesterday that leaders in small communities, such as school principals, gardai or GAA club chairmen, "deserve a certain level of respect". He said any assault in a small rural area was a serious offence.
Tubridy had already paid €400 compensation to Mr Woulfe, who has been principal at Labasheeda for 17 years.
On the day of the offence, Tubridy arrived at the two-teacher school after classes had ended to complain about an issue regarding his son. Mr Woulfe was talking to another parent, Caroline O'Shea, in a classroom at the time.
The court heard that Tubridy was dissatisfied about how certain matters in relation to his son were being dealt with.
Mr Woulfe told Tubridy that he could not deal with the issue at the time before the parent struck him across the face. The assault was witnessed by Ms O'Shea. Mr Woulfe suffered a swollen nose, black eye and swollen tooth.
A previous court hearing heard allegations regarding the management of the school and that 10 pupils had left to attend a different school.
Judge Durcan said there was more to the incident than met the eye and acknowledged that it could have an impact on the school.
He said a positive report had been issued to the court in respect of the standard of education at Labasheeda school, but was not satisfied that further steps had been taken in relation to the case.
Judge Durcan said "a septic atmosphere" existed among the Labasheeda community. "There is something wrong that needs to be addressed," he added.
The judge said while he had evidence that Tubridy could be pleasant, friendly and worked in the community, "he is not entitled to walk into a school and assault a school principal".
Tubridy, a father of two who has no previous convictions, was fined €750 and given three months to pay.
Last night, the board of management at Labasheeda National School issued a statement reaffirming its total confidence in Mr Woulfe.
"The totally unwarranted physical assault of a teacher in his classroom has to be regarded as wholly unacceptable behaviour. The board of management, Mr Woulfe and staff have always endeavoured to ensure that the school is run in an efficient and positive manner for the benefit of all children in the community," the school said.