Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland political turmoil: Judge's fury at dearth of resources for mentally ill


By Eamonn MacDermott

An outspoken judge has told his court that "a wave of mental health issues are overwhelming the justice system in Northern Ireland".

District Judge Barney McElholm yesterday told Londonderry Magistrates Court that mental health issues, addiction issues and domestic violence were "the biggest issues facing this court".

"The lack of mental health resources in this benighted place never ceases to amaze me," he said.

Mr McElholm said Magistrates Courts dealt with 96% of all criminal cases here and "we are completely devoid of any proper disposals to deal with these people".

He added: "We are told that we are part of the UK. The English are entitled to drag us out of Europe against our will but won't give us the same rights or facilities that are afforded to English and Welsh people."

Mr McElholm said his comments about Europe were "simple fact not political opinion - this jurisdiction voted to remain".

He said that "some people don't even seem to see the problems" with the inadequate legislation and facilities.

The judge was speaking as a 20-year-old Derry man appeared in court via video-link.

The defendant, who has a history of "long-term mental health issues", surrendered himself to custody last month because he was unable to get admitted to hospital.

Kieran Masterton, of Drummard Park, pleaded guilty to assaulting his sister on August 30.

The judge released Masterton on bail until a later date for him to be assessed by the probation psychologist.

He said this might assist the defendant in getting the help he needed.

Belfast Telegraph

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