Wednesday 20 March 2019

'A pub directed me to a toilet down the road'

Court victory: Olan McGowan won his case against Searson’s pub. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Court victory: Olan McGowan won his case against Searson’s pub. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Wheelchair user Olan McGowan doesn't come across much discrimination these days.

"A supermarket refused a staff member to help me reach high shelves, but after I complained to the manager, it was sorted."

A more serious matter arose when he asked about bathroom facilities in Dublin's Searson's pub in 2006. "The barman directed me to another pub down the road. His attitude was terrible."

Olan, a radio producer with RTE, complained to the bar in writing, but his letter was ignored. He decided to investigate the legislation, which, for bars, comes under the licensing laws rather than the Equality Act.

He took a case, supported by the Equality Authority. The court found in his favour. "I wanted three things: the discrimination to be acknowledged; for the pub to install a toilet suitable for wheelchair users and for my costs to be paid. The judge agreed and gave me €1,000 for my trouble, of which I donated €500 to the Irish Wheelchair Association."

"I'm not saying every single small business must cater for the disabled, but there are ways and means, and a big successful pub like this certainly should have."

Since the time of this incident, Searsons has changed hands and now has state of the art disabled rest rooms.

Charlie Chawke has taken over the running of the premises and submitted the following letter after reading the above article.

"Dear Sir,

"I opened your paper with incredulity last Wed 17/08/2016. I read that a Mr Olan McGowan a wheelchair user had been sent away from Searsons because of the lack of disabled facilities. Please note that this incident occurred in 2006 long before I took over the running of Searsons in Baggot St. If Mr McGowan were to visit my premises today he will find responsive and caring staff and state of the art disabled rest rooms."

Irish Independent

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