A blind Irish Paralympian has spoken of his humiliation at being refused entry to a restaurant because he had a guide dog with him.
Martin Gordon, who represented Ireland in the tandem para-cycling in Toyko, said he was told he could not be served when he entered the restaurant last Saturday with his partner, seven-year-old daughter and guide dog Juno.
Mr Gordon, who qualified as a barrister in 2010, said he was told that no dogs was the house policy and that included guide dogs.
He was told he could have a table outside, and then the manager came out and said there were no free tables available in any case as the restaurant was booked up.
Mr Gordon says his treatment is a breach of the Equal Status Act and he wants to highlight it to ensure that others do not get treated in a similar fashion..
Mr Gordon, who is originally from Sligo town, said he does not want to name the restaurant as he is reserving the right to take proceedings against it.
He lost his sight overnight at the age of 17 due to a retina-detachment condition. Despite this, he has pursued a successful career as a barrister. He got into cycling through the Malin to Mizen charity cycle to raise funds for guide dogs.
In 2016 he teamed up with Eamonn Byrne, an established track sprinter, and they have represented Ireland at various world events and the Paralympics.
Mr Gordon said he had eaten at the restaurant during the summer and the food was good, which is why he wanted to return.
“I have had enough of it. The first time I went with a guide dog and my parents was in 2003. I was 18 and they pointed to the guide dog and said, ‘that’s not coming in here’. Now we are in January 2023 and little has changed,” he said.
“It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen. Enough is enough and it happens to other guide dog users too. Life with disabilities is hard enough without this humiliation. People can’t be allowed to get away with doing this to people with disabilities. Discrimination is wrong at any level.
“It is humiliating no matter who you are with, but it happened in front of my daughter. She wasn’t aware of why I was refused because I wanted to protect her from that.”
Mr Gordon said he is not a person who courts controversy and he wants to go about his business, but at some stage he has to say “no more”.