‘It doesn’t take much for them to harass you’

Published date23 June 2022
Publication titleIrish Times (Dublin, Ireland)
In late March 2020, McCann (40) was arrested when out for a walk while taking a break from doing a college assignment. He was "well used" to being stopped by gardaí, but this time he ended up in a cell for several hours, was strip-searched and charged with breaching the peace

"I was living in homeless accommodation in Ranelagh [in Dublin] at the time," he says. "I just crossed the road and a squad car pulled in next to me. Two guards came out. One asked 'What's your name?' I told him and he asked for identification. All I had was my bank card, so I showed him that. He asked 'Where do you live?', so I told him 'just over there'.

"Then he asked me to empty my pockets, and I showed him I had a bit of change. He said, 'What have you got in your shoes?' I said I hadn't got anything in my shoes. He said, 'Take them off'. I said I wasn't taking off my shoes, I hadn't done anything wrong, I was just going to the shops. There were people walking past and I was getting embarrassed.

"Then he got really aggressive. There was one guard on each side, both asking me questions and it was getting really intimidating. This went on and I said, 'I am not taking off my shoes. I didn't do anything'."


McCann said the gardaí then grabbed, handcuffed him and brought him to a Garda station, where he was put in a cell and strip-searched.

"I'm used to that kind of thing, so I thought that would be it. But they kept me there for about two or three hours in the cell. Then they said I could go. And when I went to the front desk to get my belongings they gave me a charge sheet for a breach of the peace," he says.

"I was up in court a few times. It kept getting put back. When it came to the final day the guard was there and he was really going against me . . . When I explained my situation to the judge she dismissed it. She told me I could have handled it better, so she dismissed it, but covered the guard too."

McCann believes he was stopped because he was identifiably a Traveller "in quite a...

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