Judge pledges to stamp out feuding by 'lazy' Travellers
A JUDGE has pledged to stamp out feuding by settled Travellers.
District Court Judge Seamus Hughes yesterday claimed that feuding was due to lifestyles of laziness, living off the State, and making no contribution to the community.
The judge, who said feuding seemed "endemic" to Mullingar and Longford, warned that he will stamp it out during his time on the bench.
"I won't feel I served the position unless the phenomenon of affrays and feuds is wiped out," said Judge Hughes, who was appointed in March to the District covering Mullingar and Longford.
However, speaking at Mullingar District Court, he said he had no confidence he would be able to achieve that aim.
Feuding happens mainly in "a certain socio-economic group, namely settled persons", said the judge, who accepted that he might get letters from the Traveller movement complaining about his comments.
However, he insisted that these were "the hard facts".
He claimed that this "business of feuding" was particular to Mullingar and Longford and that he'd never come across it in his home county of Mayo or in Donegal, where he previously sat.
He was speaking as he jailed John Joe Nevin (38), of Valley Cottages, and his uncle Michael Nevin (39), of St Anthony's Cottages, Mullingar, who pleaded guilty to affray at the Grange estate in the town on January 13 last.
Up to 16 people were involved in what Garda Paul Deely described as a full-scale row that was very violent and aggressive and required up to eight officers to quell.
The Nevins said they were defending themselves from attackers who threw stones at them as they tried to find out why they were attacking John Joe Nevin's pregnant partner's home.
"When they were coming at us, we had to defend ourselves," he said. "We didn't bring our weapons, we didn't want to get involved," he added, but later said he didn't have any weapons.
"I want to send out a strong signal to these two and to others in the same socio-economic group that Judge Hughes will be very, very hard on this crime," said the judge.
Michael Nevin, who has previous convictions for affray and violent disorder, was jailed for 12 months, and John Joe Nevin was jailed for eight months. Both had the final three months suspended for three years.
The judge described affray as "a most serious offence".
On hearing from Inspector Fergus Treanor that gardai would have been "stretched" on the night to deal with other accidents or incidents, the judge was critical that others were without protection.
"The entire resources of the gardai were entirely devoted to these two men," he said, "leaving the population of around 22,000 people without garda protection.
"It is totally unacceptable to taxpayers and I won't tolerate it," he concluded.