Traveller family lose appeal over school decision

The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal in a case involving a boy from the Traveller community who was refused admission to the Christian Brothers High School in Clonmel in 2010.

The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal in a case involving a boy from the Traveller community who was refused admission to the Christian Brothers High School in Clonmel in 2010.

Mary Stokes, the boy’s mother, had argued that a school policy which gave preference to the children of past pupils discriminated indirectly against Traveller children.

The boy’s father, a Traveller, was not a past pupil of the school.

The boy was refused admission to the school having failed to satisfy the school’s “parent rule” and was also unsuccessful in a lottery of the remaining places.

His family said he had suffered indirect discrimination (under the Equal Status Act 2000-2008).

The Equality Tribunal found that the school’s policy discriminated indirectly against Travellers.

However, both the Circuit Court and the High Court rejected that finding, decisions that were upheld by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The court ruled that insufficient evidence had been put before previous hearings at the Equality Tribunal and at the Circuit Court.

It found it was therefore not possible to carry out a proper analysis.

Two of the five Supreme Court judges took a different view; that equality legislation meant that no appeal to the Supreme Court was allowed.

Reacting to the decision, Brigid Quilligan of the Irish Traveller Movement said Ms Stokes had taken the case on behalf of her son and of all Traveller children.

She said there was not a level playing field for all children to access education.