herald

Wednesday 22 January 2020

'Shocking' treatment of Traveller family to cost pub up to €100k

Publican Charlie Chawke
Publican Charlie Chawke

Publican Charlie Chawke has said he will "take on the chin" a judge's ruling that his pub defamed a Traveller family, which could cost his business more than €100,000.

However, the owner of the Orchard Inn in Rathfarnham insisted his company has "nothing against the Travelling community".

"We've never had anything like this before," he said.

Mr Chawke said he had to back his manager over the incident. However, a judge rejected this version of events yesterday, awarding the Connors family €33,000 damages and heavily criticising the pub's attitude.

"What happened at the Orchard Inn on Sunday, September 11, 2016, in Ireland at the close of the second decade of the 21st century is shocking," Judge John O'Connor said.

"It's reminiscent of a dark period of Irish history that we thought was over," he told barrister Kevin D'Arcy, counsel for Freda, Patrick, Kathleen and Larry Connors.

"There was a clear policy that they were to be excluded and I would advise the owner that he should change that."

The judge described them as a very decent family that had been the subject of humiliation and denigration at the premises on Butterfield Avenue.

He said the Connors family had been refused entry simply because of their ethnicity and a policy to exclude Travellers.

Judge O'Connor said the court had found it disturbing that throughout his evidence the restaurant manager Wayne Buggle kept referring to the Connors as "these people".

He said that the effect on Freda Connors (31), whose family resides at Stocking Hill, Rathfarnham, had been particularly disturbing. She was a heavily pregnant young mother who had her children with her.

Throat

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

Mr D'Arcy said while the Connors were remonstrating, other families were walking in without being asked if they had a booking.

Judge O'Connor awarded Freda Connors €15,000 damages and awarded €6,000 damages to Patrick, Kathleen and Larry Connors.

The judge told Mr D'Arcy he would award circuit court costs in each case against The Orchard Inn, likely to exceed €100,000 for all parties' costs.

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