herald

Thursday 23 January 2020

Chawke appeals €33k awarded to Travellers over refusal

Publican Charlie Chawke
Publican Charlie Chawke

A company owned by prominent publican Charlie Chawke has lodged appeals against a court decision to award members of a Traveller family €33,000 for defamation.

The awards were made in favour of Freda, Patrick, Kathleen and Larry Connors over an incident when they were refused service at one of Mr Chawke's Dublin pubs, the Old Orchard Inn.

The case, which hit headlines last month, was described by Circuit Court judge John O'Connor as being "reminiscent of a dark period of Irish history that we thought was over".

But the Herald has learned appeal papers were lodged by Mr Chawke's The Orchard Inn Ltd straight after the hearing.

The appeal is now set to be mentioned in the High Court on January 20 and is expected to be heard later this year.

"We have appealed," confirmed Mr Chawke, a well-known businessman, who owns several pubs and was once a shareholder in English soccer club Sunderland.

He said he was "confident" the decision of the circuit court could be overturned.

Judge O'Connor said the four members of the Connors family had been the subject of humiliation and denigration when they were refused service at the pub in Rathfarnham on September 11, 2016.

Refusal

The court heard the family, of Stocking Hill, Rathfarnham, went to the premises for Sunday lunch but were refused entry, allegedly because they did not have a booking.

It was claimed that while they remonstrated with bar manager Wayne Buggle, other people walked in without being asked whether they had a booking or not.

Judge O'Connor did not accept that when asked by Mr Buggle if he had a reservation Patrick Connors had immediately said "Get out of my way or I'll slit your throat."

The judge said the evidence of Mr Buggle had been evasive and the court had found it disturbing that throughout his evidence he had kept referring to the Connors family as "these people".

Judge O'Connor said he believed the Connors family were excluded because of an incident weeks earlier in the pub involving a different Traveller group.

He awarded Freda Connors €15,000 in damages and awarded €6,000 damages each to Patrick, Kathleen and Larry Connors.

Despite the judge's comments, Mr Chawke said he had given his backing to Mr Buggle.

"I can't not be behind my manager or else I wouldn't be a boss. I either believe him or I don't. I have to back my manager," he said.

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