“BY standing up for yourselves and your community, you have obtained more than any substantial prize,” Judge Carol Anne Coolican told Newcastle West District Court when she awarded five women from € 200 each. Charleville who had argued discrimination because they had been refused entry. at a concert at the Castletown Pattern Country Music Festival.
The five women described themselves as Irish travelers.
“I take note of what is said by the plaintiffs,” said the judge. “They were looking for justice and respect. They were fighting for change. They did it by coming here and getting my ruling. It is their victory today.
The “nominal fine” was knowingly imposed, she said, and awarded costs to the women as well.
The case was brought under section 19 (2) of the Intoxicating Liquor Act against publican Mark Foley, Ballyagran, who had obtained an occasional license for the festival hosted by the Castletown Development Committee in August 2019.
The committee had compensated Mr. Foley, declared in court Donal Ryan BL, mandated by Marie Forde.
The five candidates, all from Charleville, were: Anita Toner, The Cottage, Rathgoggin North; Theresa McCarthy, Hillview Drive; Margaret Meehan, Corinview, Ballyhea; Margarita McCarthy, Deerpark View and Mary Conway, Oak Drive, Brindle Hill.
The five, four sisters and the daughter of one of the women had planned a girls’ night out at the Castletown Pattern Festival on August 16, 2019. But when they arrived at the entrance to the festival site, they said they were had refused them entry. by security guards who told them it was “only for locals”.
At first they thought it was a joke, but when they challenged it, as they lived only a few miles away and saw other people from Charleville entering the park, they were told it was because ‘no member of the traveling community was allowed to enter.
Mr. Ryan told each of the women who testified that there was a “dead end” going on when they arrived and that everyone was barred from entering until it had calmed down.
The stalemate arose, the court heard, because some people, who had threatened security the previous year, showed up but were not allowed to enter. saying that other people were allowed in but they were not.
In her testimony, Anita Toner said that she was the president of a human rights organization, The Travelers of North Cork. She was “excited” to go to the concert, she said, but when they realized the security guards were serious, they stepped aside.
“It was pretty humiliating and embarrassing,” she said and walked back to the car for a moment where she sat down crying. She then returned to the gate where she was told that the committee had decided that no member of the Traveler community was entering.
The incident had an impact on her, Ms. Toner said. “I feel isolated. Her husband and her friends come from the sedentary community, she explained. “I’m afraid to go to lunch in case I don’t come in.” I’m afraid to go to dinner with my husband because I might not be let in.
Her sister, Theresa McCarthy, said she was “mortified” when she was refused entry. “I felt so weak, so downgraded where I work trying to make changes,” she said.
“I am married to a sedentary man. I work in a job. I educate my children. She testified that they had been told that a decision had been made and that “there is no coming tonight”. She did not agree “100%” that there had been a standoff lasting 30 to 60 minutes in which no one was allowed entry.
“We were all excited for the evening,” said Margaret Meehan. “It was kind of my time, the sisters were getting together.” When they weren’t left inside, she said, “we were pretty embarrassed. We felt isolated. We felt swept away. At that time, she was in a managerial position in the traveler development organization, she said, but was asked for identification.
Margarita McCarthy said she was a single mother with a child who has special needs. “It’s very difficult for me to get out. I don’t go out that often, ”she said. After the Castletown incident, she said, “I’m not going out at all. I am too embarrassed. She had a lot of sedentary friends but had never been turned down before. “The only time I was turned down I was so excited to go out my night out.”
Mary Conway said she could no longer listen to Clíodhna Hagan who was at the concert that night because it “brings me back at night”. She said that she was asked for her name and her mother’s name by someone she believed to be a member of the committee and believes she was turned down “because of who I am”.
“I do this, not for myself, but for my children. I don’t want them to go to a bar, a restaurant and be told no. It’s about getting justice and respect. It was five mothers going out. We cannot go back to what has happened now.
Joe Cleary was in charge of security that night and the court heard he told people who had been involved in an incident the year before and showed up in 2019 that they were banned. He thought it could get unpleasant because there were “15 or 20” different people “roaring” at him on the road, he explained and for safety reasons he decided to prevent everyone from d ‘enter for a while.
He said he saw the women talking to the forbidden family. “I knew if I let them in there would be war. I said there was going to be an uproar.
For 30 minutes to an hour, no one entered, Mr Cleary said. “I did not let anyone enter that door while this incident was unfolding. I’m not telling lies. He had no recollection of having said “only the locals”.
Denis Cagney said he was a member of the volunteer committee that relaunched the festival in 2007 and was in the ticket office, a short distance from the barrier at night. At around 8:30 p.m., a group arrived that had been banned due to the incident the previous year.
Joe Cleary, he said, stepped out onto the roadway to keep them out. It was a group of five or six that went down to 10 or 12 and it lasted half an hour or 45 minutes, he said. “Physically, no one could pass,” he said and other people gathered “back” on the road. No one came for 20-30 minutes, he said and everything calmed down after 30/45 minutes.
He disagreed with the women’s statements that there were very few people when they arrived.
The court heard that the five women had attended the festival before, that Traveler families were attending the holy well as part of the Model Day, and that Traveler culture acts had taken place at the festival. .
In her judgment, Justice Coolican noted the conflict of evidence and that the Liquor Control Act claim was based on “prohibitive conduct” which includes discrimination or harassment at the point of entry. “I am convinced that there was discrimination against the five named on the night in question,” she said.
She noted that the event did not take place at licensed premises, but that an occasional license had been issued to Mark Foley who was not there on the night in question. She hoped the committee “would stand behind him,” she said.
The Castletown development committee was compensating Mr Foley, Mr Ryan BL said, noting that the committee, which was entirely voluntary, had funded the re-roofing of the community center and paid for its maintenance.
He also hosted a Christmas dinner for the elderly and regular donations were made to charities.