Dáil privilege used to name judge at centre of allegations over seeking relationship with woman

Allegations a judge abused his position by seeking a sexual relationship with a woman who appeared in his court have not been comprehensively dealt with, according to Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

e made the comments after People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy identified the retired District Court judge at the centre of the allegations as James O’Connor.

Mr O’Connor, who was based in Co Kerry, had to retire in 2018 after his application to stay on the bench for another year was refused.

Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Murphy alleged the retired judge “abused his position to persistently and completely inappropriately pursue a vulnerable woman who was before his court on a family law matter for a sexual relationship”.

He also claimed a second woman, who he called Ms B, had claimed Mr O’Connor lunged at her in a courthouse.

The first woman complained to gardaí, but it was determined no crime occurred. The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) later found no evidence gardaí had mishandled her complaint.

Mr Martin said Mr Murphy had raised “a very serious issue” and noted the matter had been considered by GSOC.

“The existing mechanisms of the investigative authorities have not been in a position to bring this to the conclusion that one would anticipate it should be,” said Mr Martin.

He continued: “There is a real issue here in terms of the authorities and in terms of how diligent assertions of this kind, allegations of this kind, are followed through and dealt with comprehensively.

“Because they haven’t been dealt with comprehensively in this case.”

Mr Martin said he was “very concerned” about the matter and wanted to give it further consideration but added that the Oireachtas “cannot investigate every single case”.

Earlier this week the Irish Independent reported the woman intended to sue the retired judge and the State, claiming state bodies failed to take appropriate action on foot of her complaints.

Mr Murphy previously raised the matter in July, without naming Mr O’Connor.

He said that since then he was contacted by another woman who told him “a very similar story” relating to the same judge.

The TD said the second woman had also been before Judge O’Connor on a family law matter.

“He approached her repeatedly, he got her number and then he persistently pursued her,” Mr Murphy said.

“There were multiple incidents. I won’t go through all of them. I will just quote one incident she told me about.”

Quoting the woman, the TD said: “He rang me another day and said he had stuff for my case. He said to meet me at the back door of the courthouse. I went to the back door and he was waiting.

“He said he didn’t have the paperwork with him. He brought me in there to get the paperwork, then he lunged at me. I pushed him and left.

“He obviously felt he could have done anything he wanted to.”

Mr Murphy described the woman making the fresh allegations as Ms B. He said there was also a Ms C.

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