Case Number: DEC-S2016-013. Workplace Relations Commission

CourtWorkplace Relations Commission
Date15 February 2016
Docket NumberDEC-S2016-013
PartiesThomas McMenamin -V- Donegal County Council
EQUAL STATUS ACTS DECISION NO: DEC-S2016-013 PARTIES Thomas McMenamin And Donegal County Council File Reference: ES/20013/0089
Date of Issue: 15th February 2016

Equal Status Acts, 2000 to 2008 - Section 3(1) - Direct discrimination, Section 3(2)(i) - Traveller community – Disability – Marital Status.
Disposal of premises and provision of accommodation, Section 6(1).

1. Delegation under the Equal Status Acts, 2000-2008

1.1 These complaints were referred to the Director of the Equality Tribunal on the 15 August 2013 under the Equal Status Acts. In accordance with powers under Section 75 of the Employment Equality Acts and under the Equal Status Acts, the Director delegated the complaint to me, Emile Daly, an Equality Officer, for investigation, hearing and decision and for the exercise of other relevant functions of the Director under Part III of the Equal Status Acts, 2000 to 2008.

This decision is issued by me following the establishment of the Workplace Relations Commission on 1 October 2015, as an Adjudication Officer who was an Equality Officer prior to 1 October 2015, in accordance with section 83.3 of the Workplace Relations Act 2015.

As required by Section 25(1) and as part of my investigation, I proceeded to hearing on the 30 September 2015 in Harvey’s Point Hotel, Donegal Town, Co. Donegal.

Those present at the hearing were:

Thomas McMenamin – Claimant

Kathleen McGrory – Claimant’s sister

Fergus McAteer – Traveller Accommodation Officer in Donegal County Council

Patrick McLaughlin – Divisional Manger for Housing Services

Paul McGill – Area Manager for Housing and Corporate Services

The Claim

Claimant claims that he was discriminated against on grounds of disability, marital status and membership of the travelling community.

The Claimant states that the Respondent has refused to accommodate him and his family, in a specific property; namely a cottage on the Bog Road in Ardara, Co. Donegal and this decision amounts to a failure to provide him and his family with reasonable accommodation that this is discriminatory.

The Dispute

There is no dispute that the Claimant’s application to live in the Bog Road Cottage has been denied by the Respondent. The defence raised by this Respondent is that, while there is a duty to arrange for accommodation for those that cannot afford it under provisions of the Housing Act 1988 -2009, there is no legal obligation on a local authority to provide accommodation in a specific house.


1. The Claimant stated that there was a close family connection between the Cottage on the Bog Road, Ardara and his family.

2. He explained the background as follows:

(a) The Claimant and his family were brought up living on a caravan site on the Bog Road, Ardara, Co. Donegal.

(b) When he married, the Claimant moved to Lifford and has not lived in the Ardara area since. However his parents and siblings remained living on the Bog Road caravan site, in poor living conditions.

(c) After Owen McMenamin Snr (the Claimant’s father) separated from his wife Mary McMenamin, he and his son Josie McMenamin (brother of Claimant) applied to Donegal for housing assistance

(d) A specific instance cottage was built for the benefit of Owen McMenamin (Snr) and Josie McMenamin in 2002 however, prior to completion, in 2000, Owen McMenamin (Snr) died and thereafter, Josie McMenamin was registered as the sole occupant

(e) Around this time; Oweny McMenamin (a brother of Claimant) and his mother Mary McMenamin moved into the cottage to live with Josie

(f) In 2005 Josie McMenamin died and Oweny McMenamin vacated the cottage. Bernadette Boyle (sister of Claimant) moved into the cottage to live with her mother, Mary McMenamin.

(g) Kathleen McGrory (sister of Claimant) moved into the cottage and Mary McMenamin moved out to live in a house in Lifford. Bernadette Boyle then vacated the cottage.

(h) Kathleen McGrory was appointed as a sole tenant of the cottage in 2006. Her brother Oweny McMenamin moved back into the cottage. At this point the two McMenamins living in the cottage were Kathleen and Oweny. However, due to an argument between Oweny and Kathleen, in 2008, Kathleen moved out of the cottage.

(i) At this point there is a conflict in the evidence. The Claimant claims that Kathleen McGrory attended the Respondents’ Offices in Dungloe and signed the tenancy of the cottage over to her brother Oweny. This transaction was signed and was witnessed by third parties. The Claimant further claims that Oweny McMenamin was evicted from the cottage by the County Council and thereafter he took his life.

(j) The County Council denies that the tenancy was transferred by Kathleen McGrory in the County Council Offices in Dungloe, or at all. They state that it would not have been possible to do so. They say rather, that in 2008 they were on notice that Kathleen McGrory had vacated the cottage. Later in 2008 it came to their attention that the cottage had been abandoned and was in a state of disrepair. They boarded it up. Subsequently the cottage was renovated and in 2010 a couple were moved into the cottage who have resided there since.

(k) The Claimant...

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