herald

Wednesday 22 January 2020

'Go back to your own country' - woman's dole queue race rant

Michelle McCullagh had been collecting her social welfare money
Michelle McCullagh had been collecting her social welfare money

An unemployed woman in a post office dole queue who hurled racial abuse at a shop worker for "taking our jobs" has admitted a charge of incitement to hatred.

Michelle McCullagh (41) "stirred up hatred" when she called the woman a "p**i b***h" before threatening to cut her throat after another jobless man had confronted the victim for moving shopping baskets.

McCullagh, who was collecting her social welfare money at the time, had more than 200 criminal convictions and was under the influence of "intoxicants".

Judge Paula Murphy adjourned a decision on her case and remanded her in custody.

The accused, of Westcourt, Basin Street, in the south inner city, pleaded guilty to using words and behaviour intended or likely to stir up hatred.

Escalated

The charge is under Section Two of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989. A threat to kill charge was withdrawn and struck out.

Dublin District Court heard the incident happened at a post office in a newsagent's at Dorset Street in the north inner city last March 21.

Garda Eimear Cantwell said a queue had formed at the post office where people were collecting social welfare. A man entered the shop and moved baskets, which led the victim to place the baskets back into position. The incident escalated and the man told her to "f**k off".

The accused was at the top of the queue and when she saw what was happening, she told the shop worker "go back to your own country" and referred to her as a "p**i b***h", Gda Cantwell said.

The garda added that McCullagh had said: "Taking our jobs, what the f**k is she doing in this country? She should go back to her own."

As she made her way past the victim, the accused went up to her face and said, "I'm going to kill you" in a very aggressive and forceful manner.

The woman was told her throat would be cut and the accused "made an action reflecting" this.

The victim was in fear and thought she was going to be seriously harmed, Gda Cantwell said.

McCullagh was identified on CCTV and was co-operative when questioned.

Gda Cantwell agreed with defence barrister Joseph Mulrean that McCullagh "shouldn't have got involved" and it had been a situation that "got out of control".

Wrong

The accused had 212 previous convictions for assault, theft, weapons and other offences.

A victim impact statement was given to the judge but not read out to the court.

The accused accepted that she had engaged in behaviour that was "completely wrong," and apologised to the victim, Mr Mulrean told the court.

She had a "very difficult life" stemming from a "chaotic childhood that was of the worst sort imaginable" and had been "in and out of prison" for some time.

She had worked in handbag and fish factories but lost a child when she was young and turned to drugs, including heroin, to cope.

McCullagh had a serious addiction at the time of the incident and was "under the influence of intoxicants on a regular basis".

This was an explanation but not an excuse, Mr Mulrean said.

She identified herself on CCTV and gave a "full and frank explanation" for what happened.

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