Letter by CEO to Irish Times regarding guide dog at mass

18th December 2000.


Dear Sir,

I refer to the article under Marie O’Halloran’s by-line, Irish Times, December 18th 2000, concerning allegations that a man was requested to move his guide dog to another part of University Church, Stephen’s Green Dublin during Mass.
The incident as reported was apparently very distressing for the person concerned. There has long been a general recognition that guide dogs for the blind are obvious exceptions to rules set down in respect of other household pets, by businesses, service providers and others.

It should be pointed out that the Equal Status Act, 2000 which came into operation on 25th October last, prohibits discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services, (with some exceptions) on nine grounds including that of disability. Under the terms of the legislation, service providers, including providers of services which are free of charge, are required to make reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities who use their services, provided the cost of doing so is not more than a nominal cost.

In the case of providing (or guide dogs for the blind, there would appear to be no question of additional costs being incurred in ensuing that dogs and their handlers are made welcome and treated with courtesy and fairness.

People with disabilities have, ‘among others, long experience of discrimination in the way in which services have been provided to them. The operation of Equal Status Act, 2000 now acknowledges their right, along with the other eight categories covered by the Act, to equality of treatment in the provision of all services.


Yours sincerely,

Niall Crowley
C.E.O. Equality Authority