Community Advocacy – Positive ways to Challenge Discriminations - IHREC - Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

Community Advocacy – Positive ways to Challenge Discriminations

The Equality Authority welcomes the decision of the Equality Officer of the Office of the Director of Equality Investigations in the case of David Sweeney vs The Ship Inn, Sligo. The manager of the Ship Inn refused service to Mr. Sweeney. This was stated to be on the basis of a previous incident on the premises when a row broke out between members of Mr. Sweeney’s extended family. The Equality Officer found that Mr. Sweeney had not been personally involved in any violence on that occasion and had actually helped Gardai in bringing the situation under control. The Equality Officer’s decision stated that Mr. Sweeney had been treated less favorably because he was a Traveller and that this constituted discrimination under the Equal Status Act. 2000. He ordered that the ban on the complainant be lifted and that the complainant and his wife be provided with a night’s hospitality at the Ship Inn’s expense.

Niall Crowley, Chief Executive of the Equality Authority remarked. “We welcome the outcome of this case but what is of particular note is the role played by the Sligo Citizens Information Centre. They have shown innovation and leadership in an emerging model for community advocacy”

Community advocacy means community based groups taking on roles in supporting cases under the Equal Status Act similar to those roles played by trade unions under the Employment Equality Act. It involves community groups

  • building a consciousness of rights within communities experiencing inequality
  • building an awareness among service providers of precedents set by casework
  • providing advice and representation to those who are taking a claim under the Equal Status Act


“The emergence of community advocacy is vital if the Equal Status Act is to be effective. The Equality Authority has developed a range of supports for community groups to play this role. This support work will be a priority for us over the coming year” stated Niall Crowley.


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