Equality minister relives ‘torment’ of bullying

A minister has relived the "torment" of being continually bullied at school in a bid to raise awareness of the problem.

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, minister of state for equality and new communities at the Department of Justice, suffered years of verbal and physical attacks which blighted his school life and at times followed him home.

Mr Ó Ríordáin, who became principal of a primary school before being elected as a Labour TD in north Dublin in 2011, called for teachers to be more proactive when dealing with bullies.

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

Mr Ó Ríordáin said the bullying did not stop at the school gates, but continued into his adult life.

“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,” he said.

He urged children in a similar situation today not to bottle it up but to tell other people what is happening.

Mr Ó Ríordáin also expressed concern that social media now meant bullies had a new platform to exploit when they targeted an individual.


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