Garda seeks to halt disciplinary action over alleged racist remark
Garda Noel Gibbons vehemently denies claim but recalls telling teen not to be ‘acting the monkey’
The teen allegedly became verbally abusive when two gardaí were dealing with a hostile public order situation in Temple Bar, Dublin on June 5th 2017. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / The Irish Times
A Garda has begun a High Court challenge aimed at halting disciplinary proceedings against him over a claim he made a racist remark to a teenager detained for allegedly calling gardaí “fucking 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 accusation that a remark the garda allegedly made after the boy was arrested, 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 on June 5th 2017 with three known drug abusers.
The teen was said to have approached the scene where gardai 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 “nigger”, 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, represented by barrister Keith Spencer and instructed by Donal Quigley Solicitors, says 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 was also informed that the final decision rested with the Garda Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc).
He claims 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 claims that he has now been called for further interview for an internal discipline investigation under the Garda discipline regulations.
He claims that the entire investigation process in respect to the allegation against him is fundamentally flawed, and he has been treated unfairly.
He says that he was denied a right to have a legal representative with him during the disciplinary hearing and that he has 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.
He claims that witness statements taken from several individuals concerning the teen’s arrest show clear conflicts of facts.
He also claims he has not been provided with a report of the initial Garda disciplinary investigation, and that findings have been made against him without any reasons being given.
He claims that the continuation of this process is unfair and in breach of 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 seeks 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.