OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF EQUALITY INVESTIGATIONS
Equal Status Act 2000
EQUALITY OFFICER'S PRELIMINARY DECISION
NUMBER: DEC - S2001-011
Mr Paddy Donovan
( Represented by Mr Charles Foley, Solicitor)
Garda Olive Donnellan
(Represented by the Chief State Solicitor's Office)
File Ref: ES/2001/074
Date of Issue: 17th October 2001
Headnotes:Equal Status Act 2000 - direct discrimination - section 3(1)(a) - membership of the Traveller community - section 5(1) - investigation and prosecution of crime by the Gardai - using plain meaning and legislative history as aids to interpretation of definition of service defined in section 2(1) - incident which happened before Act came into operation giving rise to alleged discrimination before and after that date - complaint outside scope of Act.
On 8th August, 2000, four horses were wandering on a public road in Gort, Co Galway. The respondent investigated this incident and prosecuted the complainant, who is a member of the Traveller community, because he owned at least one of the horses. The complainant made a complaint to the Director of Equality Investigations claiming that the respondent discriminated against him. While he accepted he was guilty of the offence, he claimed that he did not own all of the horses and that the respondent did not summons the other horse owners, who were not Travellers. The respondent objected to the investigation of the complaint on the basis that it was outside the scope of the Act. She argued that i) the investigation and prosecution of crime by the Gardai are not services which are available to the public within the meaning defined in the Act, and ii) the Act is not retrospective and incidents which occurred before it came into operation cannot be investigated.