Sunday 22 April 2018

'Personalised attack' by Polish media on Irish judge condemned

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Stock Picture
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The association representing judges has condemned what it described as personalised attacks by elements of the media in Poland of an Irish judge who expressed concerns about the rule of law there.

One outlet described Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly, who is gay, as "an Irish lesbian judge" after she suspended the extradition of a Polish man and sought a ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union on the effect of recent legislative changes.

In a statement, the Association of Judges of Ireland said it wished “to deprecate in the strongest terms the personalised attacks and invective” directed Ms Justice Donnelly.

“Any interested person or party is entitled to criticise a judgment or ruling of a court, and even to do so in robust terms. However, a judge is a public office holder, and if a party wishes to criticise her for the manner in which she has performed her public duty, the criticism should be confined to that and directed at the court's decision and not at the judge personally,” the statement said.

“The irrelevant references to Ms Justice Donnelly's personal and private life are utterly unacceptable and we condemn them unreservedly.”

Lawyers for Artur Celmer, who is wanted on drug trafficking charges in Poland, opposed his extradition in light of recent legislative changes concerning the Polish judiciary, courts and public prosecutor.

In making her decision, Ms Justice Donnelly referred to a European Commission document, which she said set out, in stark terms “what appears to be the deliberate, calculated and provocative legislative dismantling by Poland of the independence of the judiciary, a key component of the rule of law”.

Ms Justice Donnelly was heavily criticised by some media outlets in Poland.

One newspaper, Dziennik Narodowy, appeared to make a link between her sexuality and her decision.

Another news website, wpolityce.pl, also cited the judge’s sexuality in its coverage of her decision.

The judge’s decision has also been criticised by the Polish government.

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