EU Court of Justice Hears Case Arising from Alleged Age Discrimination in An Garda Síochána

Commission Providing Legal Representation in Luxembourg to Men Who Sought to Challenge Age Discrimination 

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’) has today appeared in Luxembourg before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for the first time in a case to determine whether the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has the power to disapply national law that conflicts with EU law.

The original case relates to three men who sought to join the Garda Síochána between 2005 and 2007, but who were refused entry based on the relevant legislation – the Garda Síochána (Admission and Appointments) Regulations 1988 – which set the upper age limit for entry as a trainee at 35.

Following their refusal, the men brought complaints before the Equality Tribunal (the predecessor to the WRC) on the basis that the maximum age limit for entry to the Garda Síochána amounted to age discrimination under the Employment Equality Act 1998, which is the national legislation that gives effect to the EU Directive on equal treatment in employment.

However, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform brought a case to the High Court challenging the authority of the Equality Tribunal to consider the complaints lodged by the men or to decide whether the Regulations were valid in law. The High Court ruled that the Equality Tribunal was not entitled to declare that a national law was inconsistent with EU law, this being a power given to the High Court under the Constitution.

This case was appealed to the Supreme Court. Whilst the Supreme Court found that the WRC did not have power under national law to disregard legislation, it referred a question to the CJEU specifically to decide whether a body such as the WRC has the authority under EU law to make a binding legal declaration where national and EU laws are inconsistent.

The Commission appeared before the Grand Chamber of the CJEU in Luxembourg to represent two of the men involved, and has argued that, in order to be effective on issues of discrimination under equality legislation, the WRC must have the authority under EU law to make a binding legal declaration where national and EU laws are inconsistent.

Under its legal functions, set out in the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014, the Commission can, in certain circumstances, provide legal assistance to a person who wishes to bring a matter of human rights or equality of treatment before the Courts or the Workplace Relations Commission.

Emily Logan Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

“The Commission is representing two of the men at the centre of the original case and is appearing before the Court of Justice of the European Union for the first time.  This is an important case which will clarify the extent of the authority of the Workplace Relations Commission in considering complaints that allege national legislation does not comply with EU law.”

ENDS/

For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

Visit our website www.ihrec.ie or follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Notes to Editor

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.

Under its legal functions set out in the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014, the Commission can, in certain circumstances, provide legal assistance to a person who wishes to bring a matter of human rights or equality of treatment before the Courts or the Workplace Relations Commission.

Assistance under Section 40 of the Act means any or all of the following

  1. the provision, or the arranging for the provision of, legal advice to the applicant;
  2. the provision, or the arranging for the provision of, legal representation to the applicant
  3. the provision of such other assistance to the applicant as the Commission deems appropriate in the circumstances;

 

  • Facebook Share Icon
  • Twitter Share Icon