herald

Sunday 25 August 2019

Hotel's apology after blind Paralympian's guide dog is refused

Dublin Central Suites
Dublin Central Suites

A Dublin hotel who refused to take a blind woman's guide dog, has said the decision was down to a "misunderstanding"

Canadian Paralympian Victoria Nolan, who went blind after giving birth to her second child, was left "deeply disappointed" after the hotel said it could not accommodate her dog.

The medal-winning rower and her husband Eamonn booked three nights in the capital for a family holiday at the end of this month.

Mr Nolan contacted Dublin Central Suites on Gardiner Street to notify them his wife would be travelling with her guide dog, Alan.

The hotel said that, following a discussion with management, "unfortunately we cannot accept guide dogs in the hotel as per hotel policy, dogs are not permitted in the property".

"They told us a room was available and gave us a fair rate and when I explained to the reservations agent at the hotel that my wife is blind, this is where things went wrong," Mr Nolan told the Herald.

"When Vicky went blind we had two children in diapers and it was a nightmare. A guide dog helped give her some independence, mobility and dignity.

"We were deeply disappointed and upset to discover that a hotel couldn't cater for her disability. Alan is extremely well-trained. I guarantee he is better behaved than a lot of the human hotel guests.

Devastating

"We're not looking for sympathy but when Vicky first went blind she would barely leave the house, let alone go travelling the world.

"Usually when we go into places we are made feel very welcome, but when someone says no it is devastating."

Dublin Central Suites said there was a "misunderstanding" and "incorrect information was given to Mr Nolan".

"We can confirm that guide dogs are an exception to our no pet policy. Initially due to a misunderstanding between the reception staff and management, incorrect information was given to Mr Nolan for which we have already apologised. We are happy to accommodate their needs in any way we can."

However, the Nolans are looking for alternative accommodation.

Under the Equal Status Acts, hotels cannot discriminate against people with disabilities.

Hotels must provide "reasonable accommodation" for a guide dog while it is assisting its owner.

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