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'Judge Mary Devins is alcoholic' by Maura Harrington
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By: Maura Harrington Email Article
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DISCLAIMER: all views expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the position of Shell To Sea or any organisation or cause

I have wanted to write this piece for many years, but felt it best to wait until such time as my cases had resolved themselves in the Circuit Court and indeed other cases taken by the state against my colleagues had been rightfully dismissed too. As will be obvious from the title, my concern is our local District Judge Mary Devins here in County Mayo on the West coast of Ireland and a problem she has struggled with for many years. A problem that, unfortunately, has a marked and negative impact on the lives of us locals.

Stories have circulated for nearly a decade now about Judge Devins being encountered in a highly intoxicated state at various Mayo restaurants and one hotel bar in particular. Usually these stories (which change slightly depending on who is telling them) also feature her ex-Fianna Fáil husband Jimmy Devins trying to placate her. In the interests of accuracy there are a couple of very important points to make about these rural myths right from the start.

Firstly, it's now accepted by most solicitors, Gardaí, social workers and residents here in District 3 that such tales have not only been exaggerated but quite possibly multiplied and result mainly from one incident in 2002. Admittedly, the incident in question was noteworthy, occurring as it did in the social life of a Irish District Court Judge. It seems that many guests and members of staff at a well known hotel near Castlebar witnessed an incident during which Devins verbally abused both an elderly female friend and her own husband. Perhaps more worryingly, they also observed her repeatedly banging her head against a cigarette dispenser a short while later. This much behaviour seems certain, as so many present that night provided corroborating details and in fact to this day many people in Mayo know someone who knows someone who was eating or drinking in the hotel restaurant that night. In other words, it has become accepted as fact throughout Mayo. In my personal opinion, the story is perfectly true. I shall neither debate nor reproduce the various other anecdotes that circulate about Judge Devins being drunk in various places at various times simply because I don't have that same feeling of total confidence they are all true. Maybe the other stories are true, maybe they are not. Maybe some of them are true and some of them are not. Maybe none of them are true. It is only because I firmly believe the hotel incident is absolutely true that I have reproduced it in good faith.

The second thing it's important to stress - with great haste - is the aforementioned incident really would have very little bearing on Mary Devins being a District Judge if there were not already extremely obvious problems with her. As a campaigner for the better part of my life, I want to be absolutely clear on this point. If we didn't have other reasons for concern, the nearly 10 year old episode would fall into the realm of the woman's personal life and not warrant reproduction here or anywhere. After all, who hasn't been drunk and behaved regrettably at least once or twice in their life? I myself am nearly 60 and more than a few times over the years have gotten tipsy and emotional. Haven't we all!

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Maura Harrington has been jailed on numerous occasions and has fought for the rights of English coal miners and local Irish residents

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