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constantly taunting

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin opens up about being bullied at school: 'I used to be called Gaydhán Ó Queerdáin'

The Labour Minister of State said he stood out because he was tall.

THE LABOUR MINISTER, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, opened up this morning about being bullied at school.

The Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, Arts and the Gaeltacht explained how he was particularly bullied at the end of primary school and the beginning of secondary school.

Speaking on Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ 1, Ó Ríordáin said,

“I suppose I was taller than a lot of people my age and I stuck out so comments were made.

The fact that my name is Aodhán Ó Ríordáin – I used to be called Gaydhán Ó Queerdáin. This sort of stuff would be constantly taunted at you.

“I used to have a newspaper round delivering the Northside paper and whenever I went around with my paper bag there would be people who would follow me around from door to door.

“I couldn’t wait for the round to be finished – I used to put earphones in my ears to block it out.

Inevitably the batteries of my walkman would run out and I’d pretend I couldn’t hear them. It was a difficult thing to go through.

The best advice 

“Some of the advice you get is either to ignore it or stand up for yourself. I think I did both … but when I did lash out I’d get in trouble because I was taller than the people who were tormenting me.

It doesn’t look well when you’re involved in an altercation with someone who is smaller in stature than you are.

He described how he was followed the whole way home by a whole football team after he disagreed with a bully over a water bottle. “There was pushing and shoving and kicking and all the rest of it.

It’s more the effect these things have on your sense of yourself – your self image, self confidence, self esteem.

“Even going to mass with your family and having to walk up to get the communion becomes traumatic – you become very self conscious of yourself and think everybody is watching you.

“The best advice I ever got was from my Mam and she said that these things have a way of working themselves out and she was right. It was good to share these things- you almost feel physically lighter.”

He explained how in his career as a teacher he tried to create an atmosphere where children felt safe and these issues could be dealt with.

He also added how online bullying is very difficult as children can’t get away from the bullies when they get home.

Read: A 13-year-old has figured out a way to stop cyber-bullying>

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