Traveller rights activist loses discrimination case after being refused entry to Dublin pub

Traveller rights activist loses discrimination case after being refused entry to Dublin pub
(Left to right) Student Helen Grogan, activist Eileen Flynn and student Melissa Grogan. Pic: Collins Courts

A Traveller rights activist and two of her friends have failed in their claim of discrimination after one of them was refused entry to a Dublin pub.

Donegal-based activist Eileen Flynn and her friends Helen and her sister Melissa Grogan from Labre Park, in Ballyfermot in Dublin, brought the action against the Pennyhill Public House in Lucan.

Dublin District Court heard the three women had gone to the pub on the night of April 14, 2018, and they believed bouncers knew they were Travellers because of their accent.

However, Judge Michael Coghlan held that he did not think that would have identified them as being members of a particular group.

The application was brought under Section 19 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003 and the Equal Status Act 2000. Penalties include temporary closure and compensation.

Ms Flynn told Judge Coghlan she was an activist with the National Travellers Women’s Forum. She said she was a Traveller and lived on a halting site.

She had been back in Dublin on the night before her wedding and decided to go to the pub with her friends, Melissa and Helen Grogan. The Pennyhill was chosen because Helen Grogan had been there previously with settled people.

She said when Helen went in ahead of her and Melissa Grogan, a doorman at the pub put his hand on Helen Grogan’s shoulder and said “not tonight”.

Ms Flynn said they had not been drinking beforehand and were passive when they entered and were confident. Other people were not stopped, she said.

She said she had not got an explanation for the refusal despite asking three times.

She felt disrespected, hurt and low self-esteem as a result, she said. She was annoyed, she told Constance Cassidy SC, for the Pennyhill Public House.

Ms Cassidy put it to her that she told one of the doormen “You’ve fucked up now” and that she had sued another pub before and “they have to let me in now” and that “you’ve fucking messed with the wrong girl”.

In reply, she told counsel they had messed with the wrong girl, she was five months pregnant and wanted a better world for Travellers.

She told the court she used her phone to live-stream it to thousands of her Facebook followers. She called the gardaí and after half an hour she and her friends went to a club in the city centre instead.

The footage streamed online was deleted the next day because she was getting married and did not want it online in the event she was researched by the wedding venue, she said.

CCTV was shown but Helen Grogan, a social studies student, admitted it did not show her being grabbed. However, she said there was not much room and it may not have been visible.

She said some months earlier she had gone to the pub with a man from the settled community and the man had been refused entry, but not her. She said she was a Traveller and did not have a Dublin accent.

She said one of the doormen tipped her shoulder and said “not tonight” when she arrived.

Beauty therapy student Melissa Grogan also said the staff would have known they were Travellers by their accents. After Helen Grogan was stopped they did not impede the doorway and moved away, she said.

The doormen denied they stopped Helen Grogan because she was a Traveller or knowing they were members of that community because of their accents.

Frank Byrne who was head of security at the pub said Eileen Flynn was irate and pushing the “Travellers rights angle”. He said these situations were normally sorted out after arranging a meeting to discuss the matter, but he accused Ms Flynn of escalating the incident by live-streaming it on Facebook.

He said his colleague had stopped Helen Grogan and he got the impression she knew why.

However, no-one touched her, he said.

Doorman Sean Wall said Helen Grogan was refused entry because he was aware she had been refused on a previous occasion by another colleague and he recognised her.

He said he did not know she was a member of the Travelling community

The court heard that during their training they learned about discrimination law but in refresher material used by Mr Byrne, the wrong legislation was used.

Judge Michael Coghlan said he had heard evidence of what happened after the refusal when Ms Flynn went into “defensive mode”.

He appreciated that Ms Flynn, through her work, encountered discrimination and he expected she was more sensitive to it.

He said Helen and Melissa Grogan had handled themselves with restraint and should be praised for that.

Assumptions were made on both sides and it had to be looked at in the cold light of day, he said, but that was not the issue, which was whether or not there was an act of discrimination based on ethnicity, of members of the Travelling community.

Dismissing the case, he said he would find it difficult to identify them in terms of a particular group due to their accent.

More on this topic

'Important and trusted member' of organised crime gang jailed for carrying loaded gun'Important and trusted member' of organised crime gang jailed for carrying loaded gun

Judge fines 20 no-show motorists €212k for allegedly dodging M50 tollsJudge fines 20 no-show motorists €212k for allegedly dodging M50 tolls

Woman who stabbed boyfriend to death tells court fight was 'probably over something stupid'Woman who stabbed boyfriend to death tells court fight was 'probably over something stupid'

Nurse who 'plundered' €2,520 from disabled woman's account struck off registerNurse who 'plundered' €2,520 from disabled woman's account struck off register

More in this Section

Children 'need their dad back' says wife of Cork man facing deportation from US Children 'need their dad back' says wife of Cork man facing deportation from US

New study to give voice to 'hidden group' affected by child sexual abuseNew study to give voice to 'hidden group' affected by child sexual abuse

Katherine Zappone to discuss importance of children's rights at UN forumKatherine Zappone to discuss importance of children's rights at UN forum

Concern that 100 permanent consultant psychiatric jobs remain unfilledConcern that 100 permanent consultant psychiatric jobs remain unfilled


Lifestyle

2FM DJ Ciara King in conversation with Hilary Fennell.How Ciara King made the adjustment from late night radio to weekend mornings

Newsflash: Crunches aren’t the best exercises for starting work on your six-pack. Liz Connor sources top tips for getting a toned tum for summer.5 ways to get better abs – according to Lucy Mecklenburgh’s personal trainer Cecilia Harris

Ella Walker speaks to chefs about the working environments they’ve experienced, and why traditional kitchen behaviours are now thoroughly outdated.We talk to real chefs about ‘shouty’ kitchen culture – and how it’s got to change

Picky eaters could be a thing of the past with this hack.Food writer Jack Monroe has the most genius way of getting her son to eat (almost) everything

More From The Irish Examiner