Irish Times Equality Tribunal story

Heather Rosen was a Social Entrepreneurs Ireland 2005 Level 2 awardee. A story in Thursday's Irish Times dealt with a large number of cases which,
facilitated by Heather, were brought by members of the Travelling
Community to the Equality Tribunal. The cases were investigations into
what the Traveller families experienced as discriminatory treatment
from Clare County Council and the story centres on the fact that
Heather has been fined for “obstructing the work of the tribunal”

"CLARE COUNTY Council asked the Equality Tribunal to investigate the
personal finances of Traveller advocate Heather Rosen, and threatened
High Court proceedings if the tribunal did not stop her representing
Travellers at their hearings.

This is revealed in documentation
released by the Equality Tribunal into one of the failed discrimination
cases taken by Ms Rosen on behalf of Clare-based Travellers."

If you read that article it's worth referring to the commentary on the UCC Law News Forum for a less tinted view –

"The facts are complex, but it involves a series of cases brought by
members of the travelling community surrounding the service provided by
Clare County Council arising from the travellers' applications for
housing and related accommodation needs and linked issues.

In an unusual move, the Equality Officer (sitting as the Equality
tribunal) required that the travellers attend for a series of
"callovers/hearings" which would take place on two particular days.
When families did not turn up, even though their representative was
present, the Officer decided that no prima facie evidence of
discrimination had been provided and therefore that the claims failed.

The travellers were represented by Ms Heather Rosen, and the
Tribunal went on to decide that Ms Rosen had obstructed and impeded its
investigation and hearing of the cases. The Tribunal was of the view
that Ms. Rosen had wilfully abused the Tribunal process and had sought
to manipulate the manner in which she carried out her investigative and
decision making functions. The end result was that Ms Rosen was ordered
to pay expenses of €200 in the main case and a large number of similar
cases. (See particularly Paras. 6.1 to 6.13).

The decision raises important procedural issues as to whether the
Tribunal took sufficient account of the difficulty involved for a
representative in gathering together a large number of claimants who
are members of the travelling community for a callover/hearing. The
whole idea of a "callover/hearing" seems strange in any event. There is
a reference in the decision [para.4.5] to a tragic death of a young
traveller woman having occurred close to the time of the callovers, but
an adjournment only being granted in the case of close family members.

All in all, it seems unfortunate that the Tribunal did not proceed
to a full hearing of the substantive issues and a large number of
traveller families may well be left with the impression that the state
apparatus is acting against them rather than facilitating their claims."

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4 Responses to “Irish Times Equality Tribunal story”

  1. Evert Bopp Says:

    While I do not agree with Heather’s position on Traveller issues I find this treatment dispicable. It smacks of bullying on behalf of CCC.
    Years ago one of my kids was in the same school as Heather’s in Ennis. During the summer break travellers set up camp in the school grounds refusing to leave when the school opened again. It led to dangerous and unsanitary conditions in and around the school.
    Heather and myself were one of the few people who actually tried to find a solution to this problem.
    While I did not agree with her approach or her opinion on what the cause of the problem was I found her someone with high morals and very good and generous intentions.

  2. James Corbett Says:

    Thanks for your comment Evert. Like you, I might not necessarily agree with Heather’s methods but from my very short time in her company I do believe her to be someone of very genuine and good intentions.

  3. James Corbett Says:

    Thanks for your comment Evert. Like you, I might not necessarily agree with Heather’s methods but from my very short time in her company I do believe her to be someone of very genuine and good intentions.

  4. Gavin Says:

    Curious case alright… if you say she’s kosher James, then I believe ya.

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