State Withdraws High Court Appeals Challenging the Labour Court’s Determinations that An Garda Síochána Discriminated Against Older Recruits

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (the ‘Commission’) has welcomed the withdrawal of the appeals filed by the State the against the 2023 Labour Court decisions which determined that An Garda Siochána discriminated against Ronald Boyle and Brian Fitzpatrick on the grounds of age.

The Labour Court had ruled that both men were discriminated against by An Garda Síochána when refused access to employment on the basis of their ages. In 2020, the Workplace Relations Commission (‘WRC’) ruled that regulations providing for a maximum age of 35 for recruitment to An Garda Síochána were discriminatory on the grounds of age. The State appealed this decision to the Labour Court which also ruled in favour of Mr Boyle and Mr Fitzpatrick. The Commission provided legal representation to both men in their claims before the WRC and Labour Court.

In October 2023, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee announced plans to raise the age limit for new Garda entrants from 35 to 50, and a new round of Garda recruitment opened last Monday.

Mr Boyle and Mr Fitzpatrick had sought to join An Garda Síochána between 2005 and 2007, when they were aged 48 and 37 respectively. Both men were refused entry based on Garda regulations, which set the maximum age limit for entry as a trainee at 35. Both men brought complaints before the Equality Tribunal (the predecessor to the WRC) on the basis that the maximum age limit for entry to An Garda Síochána amounted to age discrimination under the Employment Equality Act 1998, the national legislation that gives effect to the EU Framework Directive on equal treatment in employment.

The original cases were put on hold pending a number of legal challenges through the courts which ultimately saw the Supreme Court refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (‘CJEU’). The EU’s highest court was asked to rule on whether the WRC, as a body tasked with giving effect to EU law, had the authority to dis-apply Irish law that conflicts with existing EU law. The CJEU’s landmark 2018 ruling stated that the WRC did hold such power and cleared the way for the two men’s cases to proceed.

IHREC is currently running a nationwide campaign For Equality in Ageing, which challenges discriminatory societal attitudes to age, including in employment.

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Director Deirdre Malone said:

“We welcome the news that the State has withdrawn its’ High Court appeals in these important cases involving age discrimination.

Ronald and Brian’s case proves that there is absolutely no place for age discrimination in the workplace in Ireland today. After so many years fighting against the ageist discrimination they experienced, I thank both men for their persistence and wish them well in their futures.”


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Sarah Clarkin, IHREC Communications Manager,

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