Traveller mother loses Supreme Court case on school admissions policy

A Traveller woman has today lost a Supreme Court appeal challenging the admissions policy of the Christian Brothers High School in Clonmel.

Traveller mother loses Supreme Court case on school admissions policy

A Traveller woman has today lost a Supreme Court appeal challenging the admissions policy of the Christian Brothers High School in Clonmel.

In what was regarded as an important test case, Mary Stokes had argued that the policy, which prioritises the sons of old pupils, amounted to indirect discrimination in relation to her son John.

John Stokes was refused a place in the Christian Brothers High School in 2009.

It was because the admissions policy, which stands to this day, prioritises the sons of former pupils.

His mother, Mary Stokes, brought a case to the Equality Tribunal which found her son had been indirectly discriminated against.

It was argued only 10% of John's fathers' generation attended school at secondary level.

However, the school won a succession of appeals first to the Circuit Court, then the High Court and finally today at the Supreme Court.

Three of the judges ruled S28.3 of the Equal Status Act does not allow for a Supreme Court appeal.

The remaining two judges found there was insufficient evidence including statistical data to establish if 17-year-old John Stokes had suffered “particular disadvantage”.

Brigid Quilligan of the Irish Traveller Movement said that she is optimistic that legislative change is on the way.

However, there is opposition from past pupils of schools such as Blackrock College and Belvedere against what they describe as “unjust State interference”.

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