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Golf club discrimination doesn’t swing both ways

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A golf club in Dublin has had its decision not to allow female members backed by the government.

Portmarnock Golf Club currently only caters for male members and is unapologetic about doing so. The club has been established since 1894 and has hosted many prestigious events including the British Amateur Championship. The club has a reputation as a bit of an ‘old boys’ club’.

Currently women can play at the course and pay green fees, but they are not allowed to become full members.

The government has no plans to introduce legislation to force Portmarnock Golf Club to accept female members, following last week’s Supreme Court ruling which upheld its right to restrict membership to men.

Outside the court Joanna McMinn, of the Equality and Rights Alliance, called for Ireland’s equality legislation to be changed and updated.

She said the result was a bad day for Irish women.

“It sends out a message that discrimination continues and this judgment upholds inequality for women,” said Miss McMinn. “The exclusivity of Portmarnock is just a symptom of that.”

The Equality Authority appealed against the club claiming Portmarnock discriminated against women. The authority was advised by departmental officials not to pursue Portmarnock after the High Court ruled in 2005 that it had not engaged in discrimination because its principal purpose was to cater for the needs of one gender, an exemption allowed under equality laws.

The authority discussed the High Court judgment with senior officials in the justice department and asked if they would cover the costs of an appeal. According to official sources, the request was declined and the Equality Authority decided to fund the case themselves.

The Equality Authority did not respond to questions from journalists last week, but a statement on its website did comment on the ruling. “While it is not as we would have wished, it is a matter for the Oireachtas to consider whether it should amend the Equal Status Act now the Supreme Court has clarified how this act be interpreted.”

It is feared that such a decision could have wide-ranging implications for gender relations.

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Written by Andrew Hodges

November 16, 2009 at 9:45 pm

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with , , ,

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