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Traveller group expresses 'deep concern' over judge comments

The Irish Traveller Movement said the reported comments by a District Court judge were “inflammatory and derogatory”.

Galway courthouse
Galway courthouse
Image: Courts.ie

A GROUP REPRESENTING Travellers says it is concerned about the use of what it called “inflammatory and derogatory language” by a District Court judge.

Judge Geoffrey Browne is reported to have used the word “knackers” when passing sentence on two burglars at Tuam District Court.

The judge made the comments during a case involving a publican who had been robbed three times in five months and who was hospitalised after one of the robberies in Abbeyknockmoy in Galway.

The judge is also reported to have said that homeowners should use “maximum force” against burglars.

In a statement, the Irish Traveller Movement said it condemned all forms of criminality and sympathised with the victim and his family for what they had been through. The group added:

However, we would like to remind Judge Geoffrey Browne and other members of the judiciary that the courts of justice should not be fora for the use of hate speech and derogatory or offensive language.
It was unnecessary to refer in a derogatory manner to the ethnicity of the defendants. His offensive language has achieved nothing other than to further stigmatise one of Ireland’s most marginalised communities.

The Irish Independent reports that the Michael Masterson, the 69-year-old owner of the pub targeted by the burglars, had suffered two heart attacks since the break-ins, one of which happened just two days after one of the robberies.

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