Judge Mary Larkin heard a claim that service was refused due to the complainant being a Traveller
DISTRICT Court judge Mary Larkin has reserved judgement in a case involving an Askeaton publican facing a claim of discrimination under the Equal Status Act 2000.
Christy Harty, 102 Assumpta Park, Newcastle West claimed at Newcastle West Court earlier this month that Eamon O’Neill, the owner of Hallinans Bar, Askeaton had refused to serve him last July 29 because he was a member of the Traveller Community.
Daniel (Danny) Harty of 4 Geitne Close, Askeaton also brought a claim of discrimination against Mr O’Neill for the same date. However, David O’Regan BL, counsel for Mr O’Neill, submitted that Danny Harty had not said in his evidence that the discrimination was because he was a member of the Traveller Community and should be dismissed. Judge Larkin did so.
In his evidence, Christy Harty said that on the day of the Limerick Cork hurling semi-final he and Danny had left The Top of the Town pub after the match, went to Ranahans which was closed and then went into Mr O’Neill’s bar, Hallinans. He asked Mr O’Neill for two pints but Mr O’Neill “came down roaring” and told him ‘get out, I am not serving you.” Mr Harty said he believed the reason was “because I am a member of the Traveller community.”
“I have never been so embarrassed and ashamed in my life,” he said. “I was totally discriminated against that day.” He was so upset, he said that he went straight home after that.
In cross-examination, Mr O’Regan put it to Mr Harty that the Harty family had been barred because of a incident in the same pub in February 2014.
Mr Harty said that was “completely wrong”. “They were barred out of that pub for no reason whatsoever.”
“When Eamon O’Neill barred my family, he also barred me. He wanted no member of the Harty family in his pub,” he said.
Mr Harty told Mr O’Regan he was “never involved in any trouble in my life” but agreed he had not asked Mr O’Neill for an explanation on the day and had not gone to him to ask if he was barred.
Mr Harty said, in answer to a question from his solicitor, Cathal Mooney, that his brother Johnny had gone back to the bar but Eamon O’Neill “refused him again.”
“There is a danger of tarnishing everybody with the same brush,”Mr Mooney said.
In his evidence, Eamon O’Neill said the bar was “hopping” when Christy and Danny Harty came in. “I felt a small bit intimidated, the fact they were after coming from another pub. I refused to serve them. I didn’t know how much they had to drink. I didn’t know their reason for coming.”
There was, he continued, “a lot of violence attached to the family”. “The onus is on me to protect myself and my customers.” But, he said, he did serve members of the Traveller community.
However,, he told Mr O’Regan, if somebody, settled or Traveller, was barred, he wouldn’t serve them. Following an incident in his pub in 2014, he said, he refused a member of the Harty family who afterwards brought a discrimination charge against him but his case failed.
He told Mr Mooney he refused Christy Harty “not because he is a member of the Traveller community but because he is a member of that family.”
“I didn’t want any of that family in my pub,” Mr O’Neill said.
Mr Mooney submitted that Mr O’Neill knew Christy Harty was a member of the Traveller Community. “He is aware he is a Harty, that he bears that surname.” Christy Harty was refused “because he is a member of the Hartys who are members of the Traveller Community,” Mr Mooney said.
Christy Harty “did nothing whatsoever on that occasion to suggest to Mr O’Neill that he was there to cause trouble. He is being tarnished with one brush because of who he is. I say that is prohibitive,” Mr Mooney said.
Mr O’Regan argued that his client Mr O’Neill’s refusal was based on a previous barring which arose from an incident in his bar in 2014 and a separate, violent incident in the town.
Judge Larkin will deliver her judgement on May 7.