Statement on Portmarnock Golf Club Decision
Equality Authority Press Statement
The Equality Authority today expressed disappointment at the outcome of High Court proceedings in relation to Portmarnock Golf Clubs male only membership.
The District Court had found that Portmarnock Golf Club is a discriminating club within the meaning of section 8 of the Equal Status Act, 2000. Portmarnock Golf Club challenged that finding and also argued unsuccessfully that their male only policy was protected by the constitutional right to freedom of association.
"We are disappointed that the High Court judge found that the Equal Status Act, 2000 allows male only golf. Section 9 of the Act exempts clubs whose principal purpose is to cater only for the needs of men. It is disappointing that in effect the High Court judge has interpreted men's needs so broadly as to include sporting needs" stated Niall Crowley, CEO of the Equality Authority.
"However it is clear from the judgement that the constitution does not require the law to protect Portmarnock Golf Club's right to have a male only golf club. In particular we welcome the observation that the constitutional provisions in relation to freedom of association does not preclude the enactment of legislation to achieve equality. This element of the judgment will serve the promotion of equality well into the future" adds Niall Crowley.
The Equality Authority is now considering the judgement with a view to exploring what options might now be best pursued.
"The Judgement maintains an unsatisfactory status quo. A significant institution in our society can continue to exclude women from membership. It can continue to set a standard that runs counter to any aspirations we might have as a society for greater equality between women and men. This is unsatisfactory in a context of significant and persistent inequalities experienced by women in a broad range of sectors. We still hope that Portmarnock might consider their options and change their membership rules so as to establish a new and more acceptable standard in regard to gender equality," concluded Niall Crowley.