A Dublin bus driver has become the first person in the State to be convicted under the Incitement to Hatred Act following comments he made to a Gambian man. Gerry O'Grady, a bus driver for 18 years, told Matthew John to go back to where he came from. He will be sentenced next week.

24-year-old Matthew John has been living in Ireland for eight years. He told the Dublin District Court that in May of last year he boarded Gerry O' Grady's bus and was told he was not allowed eat on it. Mr John said that he queried this and was told: "In this country, we don't eat food on buses. What are you doing in this country? You should go back to where you came from."

Mr O'Grady is also charged with common assault on another passenger on the bus that evening. Anna Wrynn says that Mr O'Grady threatened to hit her with a cash dispenser.

Mr O'Grady denied these charges in court today. He claimed instead that he was racially abused by Mr John and verbally abused by a passing motorist and physically withheld by a Garda on the bus the night of the incident. A number of his fellow Dublin Bus drivers defended his character in court, he claimed that his company was not prepared to back him but was hanging him out to dry like a turkey.

Judge Patrick Brady said that on the prosecutions evidence, Mr O' Grady's actions were unbelievable. He also took into account Mr O' Grady's agitated demeanour in court and convicted him under the charges of incitement to hatred and assault.