Belfast Telegraph

Catholic nurse awarded £10,000 after colleague's 'Drumcree chicken' jibe

By Chris Kilpatrick

A Catholic nurse has been awarded almost £10,000 by a tribunal after complaining of a campaign of sectarian harassment at a Northern Ireland hospital during which he was offered "Drumcree chicken".

The tribunal ruled in favour of Shane O'Hare, who worked at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald.

He claimed he was eating in the hospital in July 2011 when he was offered "Drumcree chicken" by another member of staff.

He said he was also told by the same person: "Orange at one end, Micks on the other."

Bunting and flags were also erected in a corridor at the Ulster Hospital, Mr O'Hare told the tribunal.

Mr O'Hare also claimed he had been discriminated against at the hospital because of his sexuality.

A manager said the Drumcree chicken remark was in reference to another member of staff having come from Drumcree, but this was rejected by the tribunal.

Mr O'Hare told how he had asked for a week off during July.

It was claimed he was asked by a colleague in response why he "wanted the Twelfth off?"

The colleague said her reason for saying that was because it was "a Protestant holiday and she is a Protestant".

Regarding flag protests after the controversial decision to restrict the flying of the flag over City Hall, Mr O'Hare's line manager was said to have remarked: "I just wish they would fly the flag of the country and be done with it."

A Union flag was also said to have been drawn on hospital documentation.

The tribunal said it was harassment as it was left in a room which only hospital staff could access.

"We regard the Drumcree chicken, 'Micks and oranges' comment, bunting, the flags protest and the flag drawing incidents as particularly serious," the tribunal said.

The tribunal panel added: "We regard all three incidents as amounting to harassment of the claimant on grounds of his religion. We find the explanation for the name of the chicken dish to be disingenuous to say the least, as it ought to have been clear that the naming of a dish in that way, on that day, to a Roman Catholic, clearly had the capacity to cause offence." The tribunal ruled the claimant be awarded £9,900 from the health trust.

A claim of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was dismissed. A spokeswoman for the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust said the trust was disappointed with the findings and outcome of the case.

"The claimant alleged that as a consequence of a number of comments and actions, he suffered discrimination on the grounds of religion and sexual orientation," she said. "The tribunal found that a number of these comments amounted to discrimination on the grounds of religion, but that he did not prove facts from which it could conclude that the claimant was victimised on the grounds of sexual orientation.

"The trust would refute that there is a culture of toleration of sectarian behaviour in any of our hospitals, but we will take immediate action to remind all staff of the importance of preserving a neutral working environment.

"The trust only received the tribunal report on November 26, 2014 and we are considering the points contained within this and will take appropriate action."

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