Traveller Law Database

Eileen Delaney, Hannah Carthy, Cathleen O’ Reilly and Margaret O’ Reilly v. Biddy Early’s, Kilkenny DEC-S2002-041-044

Date of Decision: Fri, 31 May 2002
Decision Making Body: Equality Tribunal
Law Applied: Equal Status Acts (2000-2018)
Keywords: Equal Status Act 2000, Direct Discrimination, Refusal of Service, Pub,
Full Case Details - Download Full Judgment (pdf)

This dispute concerns a complaint by four complainants that they were discriminated against on the ground of being Irish Travellers contrary to the Equal Status Act, 2000 in being denied admission to the respondent premises.  The Equality Officer found that the complainants had established a clear case of discrimination on the ground of being Travellers within the Equal Status Act, 2000.


The agreed facts are that there were two doormen on the door at the time of the incident who informed the complainants that they were not being admitted. There was no explanation given to the complainants for their refusal and the pub’s dress code was not brought to the complainant’s attention. The two complainants who met the dress requirements were not given the option of going in. The complainants asked to speak to the Manager and were told that he was not available, at no time did the doormen act in an aggressive manner towards the complainants.   

The complainants described how on the evening two of them got ‘dressed up’ before going out, while the other two who were pregnant at the time, chose to wear loose-fitting casual clothes. The complainants, before going to the respondent premises, were in another pub before leaving to see whether they could find a pub providing musical entertainment. The complainants submit that at the time they were being refused admission one of the doormen referred to the fact that he was married to a Traveller and made a comment to the effect that “he knew what it was like.” The complainants took this as referring to Irish Travellers being refused entry to pubs. The complainants submit that while the doormen acted in a courteous manner, Ms O’ Reilly felt that they were laughing at them being their backs. The complainants submit that the doormen did not say that the premises had a policy to not admit Travellers.  

The respondent in evidence submitted that they do not operate a policy of discrimination against any group of individuals and that they have several regular Traveller customers. The respondent submits that they have a dress code in place with no tracksuits or trainers are permitted on the premises. The premises submitted that the doormen recognised the complainants as Travellers on their arrival and that two of the complainants were seen to be wearing tracksuit bottoms. They accept that the complainants were refused admission and no reason was given. The respondent submitted that the manager was present but that he was busy arranging food for a party inside. The respondent submitted that one of the doormen recalled that Ms O’ Connor identified herself as a “Social Worker” and upon the complainants leaving they watched the complainants walk to another premises where they were again refused entry. One of the doormen reported the incident to Mr Rafferty (the manager) about ten minutes after the complainants left. Mr Rafferty submitted that he recalled the doorman reporting the incident to him and referring to a “Social Worker” asking for a manager, the doorman told Mr Rafferty that the women were refused as they were not appropriately dressed.  


Whether the complainants were discriminated against on the grounds of being Irish Travellers contrary to the Equal Status Act, 2000 in being denied admission to the respondent premises.   

Whether the respondent premises meets the burden of proof that they refused the complainants as their dress did not comply with the premises dress code and that the complainants were not refused contrary to the Equal Status Act, 2000 by being Irish Travellers.  


The complainants satisfied the Equality Officer that they are Irish Travellers.  

The respondent premises stated that they operate a strict dress code and that individuals wearing tracksuits and/or trainers are not admitted to the premises. All four complainants and the respondents accept that there was no mention of a dress code on the night the refusal occurred. This satisfied the Equality Officer that the complainants were not given any reason for their refusal and that this was contrary to the way the doorman states he would normally deal with a customer who was being refused.  

The Equality Officer was satisfied that there was a general agreement on both sides that, in speaking to the complainants one of the barmen referred to the fact that his wife was an Irish Traveller. The Equality Officer concluded that while the doorman’s comments were made in a sympathetic manner it was clear that the complainants by being Irish Travellers was a contributing factor in their refusal.   


The Equality Officer concluded that the complainants were treated less favourably than a non-Traveller would have been treated in similar circumstances and that this action constituted discrimination on the Irish Traveller ground under the Equal Status Act 2000.  

The Equality Officer ordered that the respondent premises pay each of the complainants €400 for the distress, humiliation, loss of amenity and other effects of the discrimination suffered on the night the discrimination occurred

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