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Dublin: 19 °C Friday 14 August, 2020

Garda accused of making a racist remark to suspect has findings against him quashed

Garda Noel Gibbons had strongly denied making the remark, and the case was heard at the High Court today.

DISCIPLINARY FINDINGS AGAINST a garda alleged to have made a racist remark to a teenager detained for allegedly calling gardaí “fucking pigs” and shouting “there’s a smell of bacon” at them have been quashed.

Garda Noel Gibbons, who had strongly denied making a racist remark, had brought High Court proceedings arising out of the finding of an internal Garda investigation that he breached garda discipline and was fined €200.

He was also informed that the final decision arising out of the disciplinary findings rested with the Garda Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc).

The garda, who is stationed in Pearse Street Garda Station in Dublin, brought High Court judicial review proceedings against the Garda Commissioner, GSOC, the Minister for Justice and Ireland and the Attorney General.

He claimed the entire investigation process concerning the allegation against him was fundamentally flawed, and he was treated unfairly.

In his action, he sought various orders and declarations including orders that the finding of discreditable conduct made against him is quashed.

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

The case was mentioned before Mr Justice Seamus Noonan, who was informed by Keith Spencer and instructed by Donal Quigley Solicitors, that the case had been resolved.

Counsel said it had been agreed between the parties that the findings Garda Gibbons had been in breach of discipline could be quashed, and the fine no longer stands.

The garda would no longer be the subject of any further disciplinary actions in respect of this matter and Gsoc’s records have been accordingly updated, it was further agreed.

The garda had always denied the teen’s accusation over a remark the garda allegedly made after the boy was arrested in June 2017, and taken to a Dublin Garda Station was racist.

The teen allegedly became verbally abusive when two gardaí were dealing with a hostile public order situation in Temple Bar, Dublin with three known drug abusers.

The teen was said to have approached the scene where gardaí were dealing with the public order matter, and allegedly made derogatory comments.

Following the teen’s arrest by Garda Gibbons’ colleague, the boy said he would “make a complaint”, would “make stuff up about this”, and that his father would have the garda’s job, the court was told.

Following his arrest, the teen claims the gardaí used racist language towards him, including calling him a “n****r”, and one of the gardaí 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.

Garda Gibbons, who is stationed at Pearse Street Garda Station, vehemently denies making any racist comment but does recall telling the teen, following 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 said that arising out of the teen’s complaint he was also made the subject of an internal Garda investigation.

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

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

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

He claimed that witness statements taken from several individuals concerning the teen’s arrest show clear conflicts of facts.

He claimed he was not been provided with a report of the initial Garda disciplinary investigation and that the findings were made against him without any reasons being given.

He further claimed that the continuation of the process was unfair and in breach of his rights.

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Aodhan O Faolain

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