Bus driver convicted under Hatred Act

 

A Dublin Bus driver was yesterday convicted of offences under the Prohibition on Incitement to Hatred Act and of assault at the Dublin Metropolitan District Court.

Gerry O'Grady, a driver for 18 years, had told a Gambian man he should go back to his own country and that "we don't eat on the buses in this country".

Two witnesses gave evidence that they overheard O'Grady use the phrase "nignogs". O'Grady was also convicted of assault when he threatened another passenger with the cash dispenser from the bus.

Judge Patrick Brady said he was convicting O'Grady of assault because of the evidence and because of his demeanor in court yesterday.

O'Grady will be sentenced next Friday.

O'Grady gave evidence yesterday that Mr Matthew John, originally from Gambia, got on his bus in Maynooth with what he thought was a kebab.

He said he told Mr John he was not allowed to eat or drink on the bus.

He said Mr John walked around the lower part of the bus looking for a sign displaying this rule. O'Grady said Mr John then told him he didn't know how to do his job and wasn't fit to be a bus driver.

"Then he told me: `You are a f . . . ing racist pig'," O'Grady said.

He said he switched off the bus engine, took the cash dispenser off the bus and tried to call the Garda. However, he saw there were no Garda vehicles in Maynooth Garda station and he contacted the Dublin Bus control room.

Ms Anna Wrynn, who was behind Mr John in the bus queue, approached O'Grady and began criticising him, he said. "I said to her: `Just stop where you are. I've had enough of this all evening', " he said.

Ms Wrynn gave evidence last week that O'Grady threatened her with the cash dispenser.

O'Grady said when another bus came along the passengers on his bus boarded it and, as the bus pulled away, Mr John shouted at him from a side window.

He said he went into Lucan Garda station and was accompanied by Garda David Byrne on to the bus Mr John was on. When O'Grady showed Garda Byrne where Mr John was on the bus he (O'Grady) tried to go back down the stairs and was prevented from doing so by the garda. He said the garda then hit him in the shoulder.

"I was held against my will. Garda Byrne had his right foot on the upper saloon and his left foot on the stairs," O'Grady said.

"Mr John then came up to me and said straight into my face that he could buy my job. I told him I was not surprised with the social welfare and £50 socialising money he has," O'Grady said.

When asked by counsel for the DPP, Ms Claire Loftus, why he said this to Mr John, he replied that he had read the information in newspaper reports on Mr Jackie Healy-Rae's son, Mr Michael Healy-Rae. "He said they were getting social welfare and £50 socialising money.

"I never uttered the words `nig-nog' and I never uttered the word `country'," he added.

O'Grady said he did not recollect telling Mr John he should go back to his own country.

Ms Loftus asked him if he was annoyed and agitated during the incident. "I probably was after being called a racist pig."

He added: "I was carrying out part of my duty which the company, I have to say, are not prepared to back me on. They're hanging me out to dry like a turkey."

The court heard evidence from two of O'Grady's colleagues in Dublin Bus who said they never heard him make racist comments.