Andrew & Veronica O'Brien, Thomas Murphy & David McGee
(Represented by Colm Murphy & Co. Solicitors)
Andrew and Veronica O'Brien, Thomas Murphy and David McGee each referred a claim to the Director of Equality Investigations under the Equal Status Act 2000. In accordance with her powers under section 75 of the Employment Equality Act, the Director then delegated the case to me, Bernadette Treanor, an Equality Officer, on 18th April 2007 for investigation, hearing and decision and for the exercise of other relevant functions of the Director under Part III of the Equal Status Act.
The complainants lodged their complaint on the Race ground. This was chosen because the reason given for their refusal of service was that they were not local. At the hearing the respondent's representative raised a preliminary issue with regard to the ground used as the basis for the case. The complainants are Irish nationals as is the respondent and the majority of those living in Kerry. The complainants were refused service allegedly because they were not locals. They argue that they have been less favourably treated than people who are locals. However, as the majority of those who are locals in Kerry of are the same race, colour, nationality and national and ethnic origin as the complainants, any less favourable treatment of the complainants is not based on their race.
Since the complainants have not established that their complaint is based on one of the nine grounds listed in the Act they cannot establish a prima facie case of discrimination on one of the grounds.
The respondent's representative presented DEC-S2006-009 in support of an argument that the Race ground is intended to afford protection to only those of a different colour, nationality or ethnic origin than the majority population. However, it is my view that it is intended to cover less favourable treatment of everyone, even the majority population, where that less favourable treatment is because of their race.
Since the complainants have failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination this decision is in favour of the respondent. This decision should not be seen to condone the practice of refusing those who are not 'local'.
3rd August 2007