Traveller woman awarded €5,000 after being turned down from two hotels

Geraldine Ward discriminated against by two Galway B&Bs in the space of a few hours

The WRC has upheld her discrimination claims ordering each provider to pay her €2,500.

The WRC has upheld her discrimination claims ordering each provider to pay her €2,500.

 

A traveller woman has been awarded €5,000 after being discriminated against by two Co Galway accommodation providers in the space of a few hours last year.

On February 20th 2018, Geraldine Ward travelled from Dublin to Co Galway to attend her uncle’s funeral in Loughrea.

On the date, Ms Ward’s sister had bookings confirmed for the Auld Triangle B&B and the Meadow Court Hotel in Loughrea with booking.com.

However, each time Ms Ward and her sister failed to secure a room and Ms Ward was forced to “freshen up” for her uncle’s funeral removal in her car.

Ms Ward subsequently took discrimination cases under the Equal Status Act to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and the WRC has upheld her discrimination claims ordering each provider to pay her €2,500.

WRC adjudication officer Ray Flaherty said Ms Ward was discriminated against on the grounds of being a traveller by the two providers.

Ms Ward’s sister secured a room for the two at the Meadow Court at 5.51pm on February 20th through booking.com after the sisters earlier failed to secure a reserved room through booking.com at the Auld Triangle B&B in Loughrea.

However, when Ms Ward turned up at the hotel reception on the Tuesday evening in February of last year after coming from the mortuary of her uncle’s removal, a receptionist told them that there had been a mistake and that the hotel was full.

Considerable stress

Ms Ward told the WRC hearing that she did not believe that the hotel was fully booked, when there were only six people in the restaurant, very few cars in the car park and it being off-peak season in a relatively quiet part of the country.

The cases were taken on behalf of Ms Ward by the Connacht Citizens Information Service and Ms Ward told the hearing that the discrimination caused considerable stress and unease for her during a difficult time for her and her family.

Ms Ward only made the booking for the Meadow Court hotel after failing to secure a room at the Auld Triangle B&B earlier that day.

Ms Ward’s sister had made the booking through booking.com but when they arrived at the B&B it was locked.

Ms Ward’s sister rang the owner and said that he would be with them in a few minutes to let them in but an hour passed and there was no sign.

Further phone calls to the owner were ignored. Ms Ward stated that she was left outside the B&B with her bags for approximately one and a half hours.

In a written submission to the WRC, the B&B owner stated that all publicans in the town were contacted by An Garda Síochána and ordered to close their premises on February 20th 2018.

In response to this, Ms Ward submitted, in evidence at the hearing a letter from the Superintendent’s Office from the Loughrea Garda Division confirming that no instruction was issued to pubs in the town to close the premises on February 20th/21st 2018.

In his findings, Mr Flaherty found that Ms Ward was denied access to the B&B on the basis that she was a member of the traveller community and ordered the Auld Triangle B&B to pay her €2,500.