Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Belfast club that refused entry to black man fined £15,000

Domingos Lopes
A planned night out at a Belfast club for Joanne McGuinness and Domingos Lopes ended when a doorman denied them access

A Northern Ireland nightclub that refused entry to a black Portuguese man and his female friend has been found guilty of discrimination on grounds of sex and race.

The Bambu Beach Club, which sits inside the Odyssey Complex, was ordered to pay £15,000 in damages as well as court costs after a judge found Joanne McGuinness and Domingos Lopes had been subjected to a series of “sexually obscene” and “demeaning racist remarks” by a doorman at the venue in September 2008.

The two friends had been queuing outside the nightclub and were about to enter when they were stopped abruptly.

According to the Equality Commission, which assisted the pair with their case, the doorman launched a vicious verbal attack on Ms McGuinness and Mr Lopes calling the Portuguese national a “n*****” and a “black b******”.

After the incident the two decided to take legal action against the club’s owners, Premium Bars and Restaurants, which has since gone into administration. The case was heard on January 18.

In his ruling Judge Aidan Corrigan said that Ms McGuinness and Mr Lopes had been subjected to remarks which were “unjustified and vile” and constituted “the worst type of race discrimination”.

He also found that other staff witnessed what had happened and did nothing to stop it.

Speaking after the case, Ms McGuinness said that what happened at the Beach Club shouldn’t happen to anybody. “Although we had done nothing wrong we were made to feel very small and humiliated in front of a whole queue of people. We’re both grateful that the Commission supported our case.”

Eileen Lavery of the Equality Commission said the ruling should serve as a warning to other businesses.

The Belfast Telegraph contacted the Orchid Group, which now owns Premium Bars and Restaurants PLC, for comment on the ruling, but they did not respond.

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