Judge Devins’s apology slammed
Mayo Intercultural Action has today not only condemned comments made by Judge Mary Devins (pictured) suggesting that the Irish Social Welfare system is a charity for Polish people, it has also voiced acute dissatisfaction with the judge’s subsequent apology.
Judge Devins's remarks, which were reported on Tuesday by The Mayo News, caused outrage on social media and in online discussion forums. The controversy has since been widely reported in the national media.
Yesterday evening (Wednesday), in an apology issued through the Courts Service, Judge Devins said her comment had been made “in the context of – and alluding to – another recent, violent, alcohol fuelled incident.”
That case had involved “several defendants of Polish origin who were all recipients of social welfare payments,” she said. “The comment was intended to be specific to that incident and occurrence and was never intended to offend any community, or members of any community If insult was taken from my comment I apologise for same.”
However, Judge Devins’s apology has itself now become the subject of considerable controversy. This morning (Thursday), MIA released a statement asserting its disappointment with its tenor. “Mayo Intercultural Action condemns the comments made by Judge Devins suggesting that the Irish Social Welfare system is a charity for Polish people. It is welcomed that Judge Mary Devins has sought to clarify and apologise for her remark however the apology in itself does not retract the statement made nor apologise for the sentiment it conveyed.”
The statement continued: “During periods of recession migrants are disproportionately affected and are more likely to lose their jobs than Irish people. Similar to all people who become redundant migrants are entitled to apply for appropriate social welfare payments.
“The reality of this process is that migrants have to satisfy the habitual residence test similar to all social welfare applicants regardless of the length of time the person has spent in the state. They are also subject to a lengthy appeal process if found not to be habitually resident for any reason.
“It is wholly inappropriate for Judge Devins to imply that Polish people, or indeed any migrants, are treated more favourably by the system or indeed that they should not be entitled to social welfare assistance."
Judge Devins’s apology has also met with criticism from the Integration Centre, which dismissed it as “rambling, contrived and spurious.” In a statement, the immigrants’ rights group said: “Her apology seeks to blame those offended by her remark for the insult they took. She needed to give an unequivocal apology to Polish people, this she did not.”
The group said it intends to make a complaint to Gardaí today under the Garda Racist Reporting Mechanism, and that it hoped that the Gardaí would also investigate whether Judge Devins’ remarks are in breach of Section 2 of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989.
The Integration Centre chief executive Killian Forde said: “The Polish community in Ireland are now the biggest minority in the country and her remarks are, at best, grossly insulting to the tens of thousands of hard working Poles. We could only imagine the horror if a British Judge insulted the Irish community in Britain this way.”