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Judge calls woman on assault charge ‘a pure tinker’

‘Tinker’ remark has Mayo judge back in headlines

Adrian Cusack

‘A pure tinker’ is how Judge Seamus Hughes last week described a 23-year-old woman who smashed a glass into another woman’s face in a pub.
The judge, who hails from Westport and who is a former Fianna Fáil TD and State Solicitor in the county, made the comment during a hearing at Athlone District Court last Wednesday. The case involved Catherine Joyce, of 29 Battery Heights, Athlone, who pleaded guilty to assault causing harm in Forty One’s pub in Athlone on October 29, 2011. The court heard that the assault took place after the victim, Georgina Barker, bumped into Ms Joyce and spilled some drink on her.
Addressing the defendant, Judge Hughes said: “What are you like on a night out? You must be a pure tinker. That’s the only word I can think of, and I’m not casting aspersions on any other section of society when I say that.”
Ms Joyce was given a two-month suspended prison sentence after she handed over €700.

Controversial comments
Judge Seamus Hughes made national headlines last September as a result of comments he made during a case involving a Traveller in Athlone. On that occasion, referring to the defendant, a 21-year-old male, the judge said: “Nobody has indicated it to me, but I suspect he comes from a certain ethnic background that would give him even more form given the type of behaviour in which some of them engage.
“As I’ve described it before, they are like Neanderthal men living in the long grass, abiding by the laws of the jungle.”
The Traveller lobby group Pavee Point condemned the judge’s comments at the time, and called on him to resign.
In a statement  Pavee Point said: “We condemn the comments of Judge Hughes. They reflect a prehistoric mind-set that has no place in modern Irish society. Everyone is entitled to a fair trial irrespective of your ethnic origin or the charges you face.” The organisation added that that Judge Seamus Hughes was “bringing the judicial system, into disrepute.”

This article was updated on Wednesday, December 19.