Thursday 18 October 2018

Ex-election candidate was not discriminated against on grounds of religion, court rules

15/2/2018 - Mark Savage, of Lioscian, Swords, Co. Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts today after a Circuit Civil Court hearing. Pic: Courts Collins
15/2/2018 - Mark Savage, of Lioscian, Swords, Co. Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts today after a Circuit Civil Court hearing. Pic: Courts Collins

Ray Managh

A former Swords, Co Dublin, local election candidate has failed to overturn a decision of the Workplace Relations Commission that he had not been discriminated against on grounds of religion.

Mark Savage, a carpenter of Lioscian, Swords, claimed he had been ignored by the former Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr James Reilly, with whom he had raised an issue about an alleged paedophile having been given a job in a non-government agency.

“I was ignored in regard to concerns I raised to make him aware of that,” Savage told the Circuit Civil Court Thursday.  He alleged that the non-government agency may have been “infiltrated” without any background checks having been carried out and claimed a letter he had received from the then Minister’s private secretary had been “a classic fobbing off.”

Savage told Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, that when he had made a complaint of religious discrimination to the Workplace Relations Commission under the Equal Status Acts, the Minister’s name had been deleted from his formal action.

He told the court that while not disclosing his religion to the Commission he had described himself as a Man of God opposed to the LGBT lifestyle and same sex marriage which, he claimed, should have been sufficient to ground his complaint in which he had drawn the Minister’s attention to paedophiles “coming down here from the North.”

Mr Savage claimed the attitude taken by the Minister had treated him less favourably than that adopted in relation to the LGBT community. His complaint was that a paedophile had been appointed to a particular position despite knowledge of him having seven previous convictions in the UK.

He said that in the letter from the Minister’s private secretary in May 2015 it had been stated the concerns he raised had previously been addressed by the former Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Ms Frances Fitzgerald. He was not satisfied with this and had decided to pursue the matter.

The court heard that the Minister’s private secretary had stated that Mr Savage should have referred any concerns he had to Tusla and other agencies and bodies that had been appointed to investigate and pursue child protection concerns.

Kevin Banaham, the equality officer appointed to deal with Mr Savage’s issues, found that Mr Savage’s complaint, calling for the Minister to raise the issue in Dail Eireann, had been misconceived.

Judge Groarke, dismissing Savage’s appeal with costs against him, said he had failed to put any evidence of religious discrimination before the court. The court did not have the power to direct that any issue complained of to a Minister had inevitably to be put before Dail Eireann.

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