Garda alleges racial bullying by colleagues

A garda, who is originally from China, has claimed he was subjected to “bullying and harassment and racial torment” from colleagues on 15 separate occasions.

When Garda Deming Gao brought these incidents to the attention of his superiors, he was allegedly branded “a rat” and the mistreatment intensified, the High Court heard yesterday.

The High Court was told Garda Gao, who is a naturalised Irish citizen and joined the gardaí in 2008, was allegedly avoided, shunned, and isolated by other gardaí who refused to communicate in a courteous, professional, and respectful manner.

In addition, Garda Gao’s religious beliefs, ethnic background, and personal and family values were allegedly ridiculed by a number of his colleagues.

He relocated to Shankill, but continued to experience alleged mistreatment from fellow members. The incidents were alleged to have occurred between 2010 and 2016.

Garda Gao yesterday applied for a judicial review into a decision by Garda management to reclassify his pay from a “work-related illness” to an “ordinary illness”. He claims his illness is directly related to “racial bullying and harassment” he suffered at work.

Garda Gao has been out of work since November 1, 2016. He was diagnosed as suffering from a stress-related illness but around last March, An Garda Síochána reclassified his illness, which means he is currently in receipt of practically no salary.

The Irish Examiner has learned that, since last November, Garda Gao has detailed 15 separate complaints in which he says he was bullied and harassed.

In a number of these complaints, he names fellow gardaí as having witnessed the incidents in question. The incidents were alleged to have occurred in the two stations where he was based at the time, Dun Laoghaire and Shankill, Co Dublin.

Both sets of complaints were investigated but none were upheld. The members who were cited as witnesses all either denied seeing any such incident or could not remember it.

Among the complaints he has made were the following:

  • On a number of occasions, he heard colleagues over the Garda radio system imitating his accent;
  • Overt and covert references to him, as a Chinese national, being more suited to the takeaway food sector rather than the gardaí;
  • Repeated mocking of his religion;
  • Isolation on the job, including a failure to properly assist him when he attended the scenes of a crime or suspected crime;
  • Humiliation by colleagues in front of members of the public in the public office of two Garda stations.

The incident which led to Garda Gao going on sick leave occurred on November 1, 2016, in the public office of Dun Laoghaire Garda Station. It involved a colleague — whom Garda Gao alleges had bullied him previously — throwing to the ground a fast-food meal which Garda Gao had just brought in for a prisoner.

This colleague then allegedly berated Garda Gao for “the smell of vinegar” from the meal and allegedly told him “not to bring that shit in here again”.

This incident, Garda Gao complained, was the culmination of a pattern of bullying which acted as a “trigger which led to a mental breakdown I suffered”.

Garda Gao eventually made a complaint about the incident but it is unclear whether his colleague was subjected to any disciplinary action.

As none of the other complaints were upheld, no disciplinary action followed in any of them.

At yesterday’s High Court hearing, Judge Seamus Noonan granted the application for a judicial review hearing into Garda Gao’s payment status.

The application was made on an ex-parte basis so the judge directed that the chief state solicitor, acting for An Garda Síochána, be put on notice of the review.

A Garda spokesperson said: “An Garda Síochána is precluded from comment on matters before the courts. An Garda Síochána takes any allegations of bullying and harassment by its personnel very seriously.”


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