Court backs Portmarnock Golf Club's ban on women

Court backs Portmarnock Golf Club's ban on women

One of Ireland’s most prestigious golf clubs today won a legal bid to refuse women full membership.

The exclusive Portmarnock Golf Club in north Co Dublin went before Dublin’s Supreme Court as equality chiefs made a final attempt to get the club to change its rules.

Women can play at the course and pay green fees, but are not allowed to become full members.

Three of five judges who heard the case dismissed the challenge and ruled Portmarnock was a gentlemen’s club where golf was played.

Outside the court Joanna McMinn, of the Equality and Rights Alliance, called for equality legislation to be changed and updated.

She said the result was a bad day for equality and a bad day for women.

“It sends out a message that discrimination continues and this judgment upholds inequality for women,” said Ms McMinn.

“The exclusivity of Portmarnock is just a symptom of that.”

The action, which centred on a section of the Equal Status Act, was aimed at overturning a High Court ruling made three years ago which backed the club’s regulations.

The golf club had also had its alcohol licence suspended for a week in 2004 for refusing to accept female members.

But during the Supreme Court hearing last December a barrister for Portmarnock Golf Club argued that while the activity of the club was golf, its purpose was to cater for men only and on this basis it refused membership to women.

Counsel for the Equality Authority felt the club must allow women and men to become full members because it was “not a social club created for pure male society fraternity companionships”.

In his judgment Mr Justice Hugh Geoghegan said as Portmarnock provided external facilities it was not discriminating.

“Entitlement of female non-members to play golf in Portmarnock is not a point that is either helpful in argument to the club or to the Equality Authority on the points at issue,” he said.

Ms Justice Susan Denham, one of two judges who found against the club, said Portmarnock was a discriminating club as its principal purpose was golf.

“Portmarnock Golf Club is exactly what its name says – a golf club in Portmarnock,” she said.

“It caters for men and women in different ways. I would allow the appeal.”


More in this Section

Dublin-based Medtronic shares ventilator design to help in Covid-19 fightDublin-based Medtronic shares ventilator design to help in Covid-19 fight

Logistical issues could scupper the North's coronavirus field hospital plansLogistical issues could scupper the North's coronavirus field hospital plans

Clearly we're flattening the curve but we need more progress, say health expertsClearly we're flattening the curve but we need more progress, say health experts

Burglar assaulted woman with metal travel mug after being discovered in Cork home  Burglar assaulted woman with metal travel mug after being discovered in Cork home


Lifestyle

This week we had a lockdown birthday party, too much TV and a reminder from Joe Wicks that I’m 53Learner Dad: What I learned from week two on lockdown

It’s amazing what you become thankful for when you go down with suspected coronavirus and enter self-isolation, says Ella Walker.10 things self-isolation makes you really appreciate

Suddenly those Facebook groups are a godsend…Social media can be a true support in isolation – here’s how

If isolation means your locks are already out of control, it might be time to take matters into your own hands, says Prudence Wade.Everything you need to know about cutting your hair at home

More From The Irish Examiner