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Tuesday 15 October 2019

Garda seeks to halt disciplinary proceedings over alleged racist remark

Stock photo
Stock photo

Aodhan O Faolain

A garda has launched a High Court challenge aimed at halting disciplinary proceedings against him over a complaint he made a racist remark to a teen who allegedly calling gardai "f**king pigs" and shouting "there's a smell of bacon" at them.

The challenge has been brought by Garda Noel Gibbons, who strongly denies the teen's allegation that a remark the garda made after the boy's arrest was racist.

The teen allegedly made the comments as two gardai were dealing with a hostile public order situation in Dublin's Temple Bar area with three known drug abusers.

The teen is alleged to have approached the gardaí dealing with the matter and verbally abused them.

When the teen was arrested by Garda Gibbons' colleague, he allegedly said he would "make a complaint", would "make stuff up about this", and that his father would have the garda's job.

The teen claims that gardaí used racist language towards him, including calling him a "n****r", and one of the gardai may have used the word "monkey".

The teen, who is of eastern Asian descent, cannot be named for legal reasons as he was 14 years old at the time of the incident on June 5, 2017.

Garda Gibbons, who is stationed at Pearse Street Garda Station, vehemently denies making any racist comment, but said he did tell the teen, after his arrest, that he should "not be acting the monkey around town".

The remark, the garda says, was to warn a young man about interfering with an arrest by verbally abusing gardaí.

Following the incident, a complaint was made on the teen's behalf about Garda Gibbon's colleague.

Garda Gibbons, represented by Keith Spencer Bl and instructed by Donal Quigley Solicitors, says that following the teen's complaint there was an internal Garda investigation.

His colleague was cleared of any wrongdoing, but Garda Gibbons claims he was found to have breached Garda discipline and was fined €200.

He was also informed that the final decision rested with the Garda Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).

What had started off as an investigation into a more minor alleged breach of discipline has morphed into something more serious, which has given rise to significant confusion, he said.

Garda Gibbons claims that he has now been called for further interview for an internal discipline investigation under the Garda Discipline Regulations.

He claimed that the entire investigation process in respect to the allegation against him was fundamentally flawed, and he had been treated unfairly. 

He added that he was denied a right to have a legal representative with him during the disciplinary hearing and that he had been misled as to his rights and entitlements.

He has also been denied the right to cross-examine witnesses to the events at the centre of the complaint.

Witness statements taken from several individuals concerning the teen's arrest show a clear conflicts of facts, he said.

He had not been provided with a report of the initial Garda disciplinary investigation, he claimed. He also added that findings have been made against him without any reasons being given, he said.

He claimed that the continuation of this process was unfair and breached his rights.

As a result, Garda Gibbons has brought judicial review proceedings against the Garda Commissioner, GSOC, the Minister for Justice and Ireland and the Attorney General. 

He wants various orders and declarations including orders that the finding of discreditable conduct made against him is quashed.

He also wants an order prohibiting the respondents from taking any further disciplinary steps against him. 

He further seeks declarations, including that his constitutional right to a good name and to fair procedures and natural justice in the context of the disciplinary proceedings have been breached.

Permission to bring the challenge was granted, on an ex parte basis, by Mr Justice Michael McGrath at the High Court last week.

The matter will return before the court later this month. 

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