The Irish Times


Judge Miriam Walsh violently assaulted while hearing case in Dublin courthouse Man allegedly punched and kicked judge after safety order granted against him


A District Court judge was hospitalis­ed after she was assaulted while hearing a case in the family law courts yesterday:

A District Court judge was hospitalis­ed after being violently assaulted while hearing a case in the family law courts yesterday.

The assault happened at Dolphin House in Temple Bar, Dublin, shortly before 1pm.

Judge Miriam Walsh, who was appointed in summer this year, had been hearing a domestic violence order case when she was assaulted by the respondent. An elderly couple had sought a safety order against their son, who has behavioura­l difficulti­es.

A safety order prohibits a person from being violent or threatenin­g to use violence against another person, but does not bar a violent person from entering the home of the applicant.

Neither the couple nor the son were legally represente­d and there was no one else with the judge in court during the case, apart from the court registrar.

The couple had previously been granted a temporary protection order against their son, who was then required to attend court yesterday for a full hearing of the case.

Gardaí called

When Judge Walsh granted the safety order, for five years, the respondent allegedly became very angry and assaulted her. He allegedly punched her in the head, knocking her to the ground, where he kicked her repeatedly.

The court registrar ran from the first-floor court to fetch gardaí, who were at reception on the ground floor of the building.

Gardaí arrested the man at the scene and took him to Pearse Street Garda station. He can be detained for 24 hours, under section four of the Criminal Justice Act.

Judge Walsh was taken by ambulance to St James’s Hospital, accompanie­d by gardaí and court staff. She was later discharged. An emergency meeting was held at the court yesterday afternoon, with District Court President Judge Rosemary Horgan, who also sits in Dolphin House.

The building, a converted hotel, has five courtrooms, and there are generally two gardaí on duty.

Officers do not routinely attend hearings, but if there are specific concerns raised in advance of or during a case that there may be a potential for violence, a garda will sit in court.

There are security cameras in the building, which monitor the waiting area and corridors outside courtrooms, but there are none inside the courtrooms.

Courts Service staff, lawyers and other profession­als who work regularly at Dolphin House were taken aback by the assault. One practition­er said it was very shocking that the judge had been attacked in the course of her work.

Ken Murphy, director general of the Law Society, said the attack on a judge, sitting on the bench administer­ing justice, was “an audacious assault on the face of justice itself”.

The Bar Council chairman David Barniville SC described it as “deplorable and to be utterly condemned”. He said it was a new low and it highlighte­d the great importance of appropriat­e facilities and security in our courts. He called for a thorough investigat­ion into the circumstan­ces.

‘‘ Gardaí arrested the man at the scene and took him to Pearse St station

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