A WOMAN has been fined for not filling out her Census form after a prosecution was successfully brought against her by the Director of the Central Statistics Office.
The prosecution was brought against Bernadette Lydon of Apartment 4, The Asgard Apartments, The Quay, Westport, for failing to provide information requested from the Director General of the CSO on census night on April 24, 2016.
Before the case was heard at the Westport District Court sitting in Castlebar, Judge Deirdre Gearty asked if the defendant was present in court, a woman in the body of the court responded saying she was acting as agent for Bernadette Lydon. When asked a number of times if she could identify Ms Lydon to the court, the woman said she was ‘B of the Lydon clan’.
As nobody identified themselves as Bernadette Lydon proceedings continued in her absence.
Providing prosecution evidence, Census Officer Irene Riordan explained the census gathering process. She said it was common practice that if a person was not at their address, a note would be left along with contact details. If an officer did not receive contact from the person, they would make further visits to the address and leave another letter outlining their attempts to make contact.
Ms Riordan said she was aware that Ms Lydon lived at the address, as the manager of the apartment block had led her to the address and she could hear noise inside the property. A local worker in the area also informed her of Ms Lydon’s address.
Return to sender
A blank census form was then received at Census HQ in Castlebar with a sticker reading: ‘No contract – Return to sender. I do not recognise you. I do not understand your intent. It is not my will or wish to contract. I do not have international treaty with you. No assured value no liability. Return to sender’.
Ms Riordan explained that a person’s legal requirements are documented on the front of the census form, informing people that those who fail to comply may be fined.
A letter outlining attempts to make contact was left, along with contact details and a note explaining that confidentiality of information was assured. This documentation was again returned saying ‘Return to sender’ and ‘Acceptance denied’.
A final warning reminding Ms Lydon of her requirements was sent along with another census form and a phone number to call, and the details of the case were sent to CSO Assistant Principal Kathleen Goulding, who also gave evidence to the court.
Ms Goulding told the court that on October 17, 2016, correspondence was received from Ms Lydon directed to the Director General Padraig Dalton. Following this two more census forms were issued to Ms Lydon. One delivered by registered post was not accepted by Ms Lydon. The other form was returned with another label containing the same ‘Return to sender’ message as before.
Judge Gearty accepted that no completed form was ever received by the CSO, and she was satisfied that the evidence given proved that Ms Lydon lived at the address, as correspondence to the Mr Dalton had ‘emanated’ from the address.
Prosecuting barrister Brendan McDonagh informed the court that every opportunity was given to Ms Lydon to prevent a prosecution. Ms Lydon was fined €250, plus costs totalling €1,500 plus vat.
Recognisance was fixed.