First Equal Status Award is for Travellers

The Equality Authority welcomes the first successful case under the Equal Status Act 2000 as published by the Office of the Director of Equality Investigations (ODEI), awarding £300 each to two Travellers who were refused more than one drink in a public house. “This decision opens up a new body of case law in the Irish context, and breaks new ground in its finding of discrimination by association” said Equality Authority CEO Niall Crowley.

“It is appropriate that this first case under Equal Status is on the Traveller ground as this ground makes up 59% of the current caseload in the Authority. This very high number of cases is a measure of the widespread, unacceptable and illegal discrimination experienced by the Traveller community”, he added.

“The case highlights the complexities in the discrimination experienced by Travellers and demonstrates how the fears of the settled community lead to negative stereotyping of the entire Traveller Community, which provides the basis for acts of discrimination. The resolution of the case demonstrates how this cycle can be broken by identifying and putting a stop to acts based on negative stereotypes. Ultimately the legislation has a clear contribution to make in creating the basis for a new relationship between the two communities where the circle of fear, stereotyping and discrimination has no place” continued Mr Crowley.

“The Equality Authority is however concerned at the low level of this award. Legislation can only be effective where awards for discrimination are proportionate and act as a deterrent. The maximum that can be awarded is £5,000 per claimant, which the Authority points out is low in itself. The Authority is further concerned that the Equality Officer did not require the pub to put in place policies and procedures in relation to admissions. The legislation requires new approaches by service providers and we believe encouragement is necessary in this regard”, concluded Mr Crowley.