Belfast Telegraph

Blind James Cosgrove speaks of overwhelming public support after guide dog row with restaurant

By Kirsten Elder

The blind man turned away from a restaurant because he had his guide dog with him has spoken of his joy at the "overwhelming" support shown by the public.

James Cosgrove from Newtownards hit the headlines this week after winning £1,250 when he took a case against the restaurant to the Equality Commission.

The owner of the  Bangla Indian Restaurant in Bangor agreed to pay Mr Cosgrove the money plus legal costs and apologised unreservedly to him for the incident last May.

He says he had explained Imogen was his guide dog but was still refused entry, leaving him upset and embarrassed.

“The support has been overwhelming, people I don’t know are coming up to me and telling me that they have heard me on radio and seen me on TV,” the 51-year-old said

“I was completely shocked that this would happen here. I explained that Imogen was my guide dog and not a pet but I was still not allowed in.”

He added: “It was as if as I was being blinded for a second time. All I could picture were all the people in the restaurant looking at me as if I did something wrong.”

Mr Cosgrove relies heavily on Imogen to get about his day-to-day routine, he said: “I go everywhere with Imogen, she is my eyes.”

Mr Cosgrove said: “If a good thing can come from this and no one else has to go though what I did, I am happy if lessons can be learnt.”

The restaurant's owner undertook to liaise with the Equality Commission to ensure that the restaurant's policies, practices and procedures conform with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Disability Code of Practice.​

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