By Andrew Bushe
Dublin — A Dublin bus driver who became the first person successfully prosecuted under the Incitement to Hatred Act following racist remarks he made about a Gambian passenger on his bus will appeal his conviction.
Gerry O’Grady, a driver for 18 years, was fined £450 for incitement and £450 for assault during the same incident. He was also told he must be in contact with the Probation Service for a year.
The judge also told him it would be in his own best interest if he sought counseling to help him control his anger
During the incident O’Grady told sales representative Mathew John, who has lived in Ireland for eight years, that he could not bring food onto the bus.
O’Grady told him he should go back to his own country as he didn’t belong in Ireland.
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"All you people are just taking money from the Government," the driver told John.
He had also threatened to hit a woman in the bus queue who complained on behalf of John and said that "it’s those nig-nogs always causing trouble."
The court was told O’Grady had a previous conviction for assault, but his lawyer produced character references from a priest and a local old folks entertainment committee vouching for his hard work and contribution to the community.
The bus driver refused to make any comment when leaving the court, but his lawyer said he was very disappointed with the decision and would be reviewing all his options.
O’Grady is been on unpaid leave. The Dublin Bus company will hold a disciplinary hearing when the legal proceedings are completed.
Up until now there had only been one unsuccessful prosecution under the Hatred Act since the law was introduced in 1989. Justice Minister John O’Donoghue has ordered a review of the effectiveness of the Act.
Mayo Fine Gael councilor John Flannery, was acquitted of inciting hatred against Travellers by a court in Galway last year.
He had been prosecuted following his alleged description of Travellers as "pedigree dogs" who preferred to lie in the sun rather than take Government job programs.