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Traveller expresses frustration after judge throws out discrimination case

A traveller told his legal team, “I paid you three grand to take this to court and is this the result I get?” after a judge threw out his discrimination case against a North Clare pub and seafood restaurant.

At Ennis District Court, father-of-six Patrick Donovan expressed his frustration for everyone in the court to hear, after Judge Fiona Lydon ruled that he was asked to leave Vaughan’s pub and seafood restaurant in Liscannor not on the basis of discrimination or because he was a Traveller.

In words heard across the court room, Mr Donovan told his two strong legal team, “I paid you three grand to take this to court and is this the result I get here? What is my kids’ future? What is my family’s future?”

Judge Lydon moments earlier retreated from the bench to her chambers after Mr Donovan got to his feet to protest at her ruling in the case. He told Judge Lydon, before she departed, that the racism Travellers face today is 50% stronger than years ago.

While Mr Donovan was expressing his frustration at the ruling with his legal team in the court, Garda Michael Daniels then moved in to caution the other man, John McDonagh, who took a discrimination case against Vaughan’s pub under Section 6 of the Public Order Act over a comment he made.

Earlier, Judge Lydon threw out the two discrimination cases after finding that publican, John Vaughan Jnr, asked the two men to leave the pub in January 2017 over an incident from 2013, where the toilets were damaged and his belief that one of the men was involved or was present on that night.

Judge Lydon said that this is not to suggest that either of the men taking the cases were involved in the 2013 incident but that this was Mr Vaughan’s state of mind at the time and him asking them to leave was not based on them being Travellers.

Both Mr Donovan and Mr McDonagh told the court that they had never been in Vaughan’s pub before the night of January 7, 2017.

Addressing the court, Mr Donovan said, “I am not here for publicity. I am not here for money. I am here for our right and for the truth to be told”.

The court heard that John Vaughan Jnr died two and a half weeks after January 7, 2017.

In evidence, his brother, Denis broke down in the witness box as he recalled how himself and John Jnr, as boarders at St Flannan’s College, used to play handball with Travellers and later some of those Travellers were welcomed at Vaughan’s playing games of pool.

Denis Vaughan said the pub never had any issues with Travellers and used to employ the late Pecker Dunne two nights a week over a couple of summers to play traditional music in the pub.

Solicitor for Vaughan’s, Jim Finnegan said it beggared belief that the men were asked to leave because they are Travellers, given that Vaughan’s is “an extremely Traveller-friendly pub”.

In the January 2017 incident, Shannon native Mr McDonagh told the court that he went to Vaughan’s and was sitting at the bar counter with Mr Donovan after being served beer by a staff member. The two are brothers-in-law and were in the area as a result of a funeral.

Mr McDonagh said John Vaughan Jnr came into the pub, took money out of the till and asked the men to leave.

Mr McDonagh said Mr Vaughan wouldn’t give a reason but he believed they were asked to leave “because we were members of the Travelling community”.
He added, “We were stunned and we were shocked”.

Garda Kevin Duffy arrived on the scene and he told the court that the late Mr Vaughan told him he had asked the men to leave over the 2013 incident, as one of them was barred. Garda Duffy said he didn’t know which of the men Mr Vaughan was talking about, or if any of them had been involved directly in causing the damage to the toilets.

Garda Duffy said there was never any issue around the operation of Vaughan’s or the pub’s relations with Travellers.

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