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Saturday 20 September 2014

Father's punch left school principal with two black eyes

Gordon Deegan

Published 21/11/2012 | 05:00

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Martin Tubridy
Liam Woulfe

A PARENT of two children has been found guilty of assaulting a principal at a primary school.

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In the assault, by Martin Tubridy (55), the principal of the two-teacher Labasheeda National School in Co Clare, Liam Woulfe, suffered two black eyes, a swollen nose and a broken tooth.

Kilrush District Court heard that Mr Tubridy, of Quarry Vale House, Mountshannon, Labasheeda, Co Clare, punched Mr Woulfe in the face on December 9, 2011, at the door of Mr Woulfe's classroom.

Mr Tubridy had come to see him over his son (8) being disciplined earlier that day.

In evidence, Mr Woulfe told the court Mr Tubridy said: "You have been at my son all week."

Mr Woulfe said he told Mr Tubridy that he couldn't deal with him at that time as he was dealing with another parent and asked could he arrange a meeting at a further date.

Mr Woulfe – who has been the principal at Labasheeda school for the past 18 years – said he was punched in the face by Mr Tubridy, who then left.

The principal said: "I recoiled back into the classroom due to the force of the blow. I was shocked and dazed."

A parent, Caroline O'Shea, who was talking to Mr Woulfe at the time, told the court that she saw Mr Tubridy strike Mr Woulfe in the face.

Mr Woulfe confirmed that he had had a meeting with Mr Tubridy and his wife Monica five weeks prior to this. They were unhappy over how he had dealt with a situation in the school yard.

Assault

The principal told the court: "I have been a teacher for 27 years and I have always treated parents with the utmost respect. I have always had an open door for parents."

The court was told that since the incident the Tubridys had withdrawn their two children from the school.

Mr Tubridy told the court that Mr Woulfe sustained the injuries as he acted in self-defence against Mr Woulfe trying to barge at him.

In sentencing, Judge Patrick Durcan said: "I am saddened to see such divisions in Labasheeda over issues that centre around the septic relations between the two parties."

He fully accepted the evidence of Mr Woulfe and rejected Mr Tubridy's evidence.

He said: "There is something in all of this that is devastating to a rural community. It is septic to everyone who is here. It is damaging to children because in every house tonight in Labasheeda, people will be talking about this and every little child will hear about it."

Judge Durcan adjourned the case for one hour so that the two sides could attempt to resolve the issues.

After the hour, Supt Gerry Wall said that Mr Tubridy and Mr Woulfe had shaken hands and Mr Tubridy had apologised to Mr Woulfe.

Supt Wall and Pat Moylan, solicitor for Mr Tubridy, said that a joint approach would be now be made to the Bishop of Killaloe and school patron Dr Kieran O'Reilly to allow mediation between the two sides.

The judge adjourned the case to April 9 to see how the talks fare and ordered Mr Tubridy to pay €400 in expenses.

Irish Independent

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