Irish speaking barman leaves job after being told ‘not to speak’ Irish

The Flying Enterprise in Cork city says English ‘most sensible’ language to speak at work

 

An Irish speaker from Co Kerry has left his job as a barman in a well-known Cork city pub after the owner told him that he did not want him speaking Irish on the premises.

Cormac Ó Bruic, from an Fheothanach in Corca Dhuibhne, said he left his job at The Flying Enterprise following a disagreement with owner Finbarr O’Shea. He said he was told he could not speak Irish in the bar which is located near the South Gate Bridge in the city.

Mr O’Shea allegedly told Mr Ó Bruic he had received complaints from customers and his pub was an “an English speaking business” and he had no permission to speak Irish in the pub.

A statement published on the pub’s Facebook page on Friday said: “We wish to clarify that Cormac was not fired or dismissed nor did we intend to fire or dismiss Cormac in this regard. However while Cormac did initially engage with the HR process he decided to leave before the process was concluded.”

The statement said management at the pub were surprised by the comments attributed to its former employee in the media.

“We currently employ up to seventy people and of them there are six different nationalities who all speak their native language. They respect that while at work the most sensible and practical language to speak is English.”

The statement said it was a HR issue and that it would be “unfair to Cormac if we were to discuss an internal HR matter publicly.”

No ‘prior difficulties’

Mr Ó Bruic (23), whose first language is Irish, said he had supervised up to 12 staff and was entrusted with the keys to the premises while working there. He told The Irish Times he had not had any prior difficulties with the owner.

“He respected me and I respected him. We were very friendly.”

The Kerry native said he was asked by the owner’s wife on August the 4th to stop speaking Irish while working.

The following day, Mr Ó Bruic said he met the owner and “I thought he was going to apologise. Instead he said ‘it is forbidden to speak Irish in my establishment’”.

According to Mr Ó Bruic, he was too upset to work that night and asked for a week to think about whether he should be included in the following week’s roster.

Mr Ó Bruic said he was subsequently informed in a letter from Mr O’Shea on August 11th that he was being given his P45.

This letter stated that the The Flying Enterprise was “an English speaking business” and that there had been complaints from customers who felt “uncomfortable” with him speaking Irish, Mr Ó Bruic said.

Mr Ó Bruic said he was unaware of a language policy in the pub.

“If there was a language code, I would not have signed it. If there was a section that said I could not speak Irish, I would never have signed,” he said.

Protest

The story has sparked an online debate with many posting critical comments on the bar’s Facebook page. A protest, organised by activist group Misneach, took place at 2pm outside the bar.

Misneach Cork’s spokesperson Lar Ó Tuama said “Irish is the national language of Ireland and it is the right of every citizen to use it if and when they please.”

The Irish Times has made a number of attempts to contact Mr O’Shea.

Mr Ó Bruic first discussed his departure from the pub on Thursday’s An Saol Ó Dheas on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta.