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Club blackguarded 'ladylike' Traveller, judge says

A judge yesterday threatened to close down Krystle nightclub in Dublin for having "blackguarded" a Traveller woman.

Judge John O'Neill, in the District Court, said Sarah Stokes acted in a very ladylike manner on the night of August 7, 2009 when the Harcourt Street club refused to admit her to a charity event for which she had bought a €30 ticket.

The court heard that Ms Stokes and a dozen friends had attended the fundraising function for Brainwave, the Irish Epilepsy Association charity.

Her hand was stamped on arrival, and Ms Stokes later adjourned with two friends to Dicey Riley's bar, in the same building. But she was then refused re-admission to Krystle.

Ms Stokes, of Cherrywood Park, Clondalkin, west Dublin, said the doorman ignored the stamp on her hand.

"I am a member of the Travelling community and I . . . believe it was the only reason I was refused," she told the court.

Peter Murphy of the Irish Epilepsy Association said he knew Ms Stokes and her husband, Edward, through Brainwave. She was the mother of a child with cerebral palsy.

The club told charity organisers on the night they had "an issue with the overall appearance of people", he added.

Club doorman Paul Melia said he stopped Ms Stokes because she was wearing very high heels, and was too unstable to allow her in.

He told the judge Ms Stokes simply walked away and refused a refund he offered her.

The judge said: "I am absolutely satisfied that, because they did not like the look of Ms Stokes, she was discriminated against and I am going to make a closure order against the club. The court may be persuaded to take a more lenient view if Ms Stokes were to be compensated.

"This lady was absolutely blackguarded and I have no evidence other than that she was absolutely ladylike on the night," he added.

After talks, Mr Healy said a settlement had been reached. It is believed Ms Stokes received compensation in the region of €5,000 and her legal costs.

The judge said he would rule on the matter when the settlement had been implemented.

Irish Independent