Iarnroid Eireann's discrimination against same sex couples is not new


This weekend witnessed the shameful discrimination against a same sex couple when they attempted to use a travel pass at Hueston station in Dublin. The incident occured ironically enough as the couple concerned returned from a march demanding same sex marraige equality in Ireland. The scandal has been passed off by the hierarchy of Iarnroid Eireann as something of a one off incident and that the company has changed their ways.  In fact this policy has been in place since at least 2008.

Barry Kenny of Iarnroid Eireann told the Irish Times that
  “We would stress that Iarnród Éireann has no policy in relation to free travel for those in same-sex or any other types of marriage. Our only role is to ensure that the provisions of the free travel scheme as set out by the Department of Social Protection are enforced,”

While Kenny can say this now he omitted to say the company had a policy of specifically discriminating against Same sex couples until 2010 and this type of discrimination was policy until very recently. The Workers Solidarity Movement can reveal that as late as November 2010 the company as a whole were strictly enforcing a policy of discrimination against same sex couples on the very issue of using travel passes.  Earlier at out May 2010 National Conference we  passed a motion which included "In the context of existing social structures, the WSM believes that LGBT people should have exactly the same partnership and shared custody rights as heterosexuals including the right to civil marriage. To this end, the organisation is opposed to civil partnership as inadequate. The WSM demands that discriminatory legislation such as the law which prevents same sex partners from using social welfare travel passes be abolished. The organisation sees civil partnership as another example of institutional discriminatory legislation."

Until a least November 2010 Cork Railway station (Kent) displayed a circular (pictured below) that was issued to staff in 2008 which clearly singled out same sex couples for discrimination. The circular clearly targets same sex couples explicitly saying “same sex couples are not entitled to a married/partner type travel pass” and highlighting that they specifically can not use passes in this manner despite the fact that hetereosexual couples were entitled to do so. The notice was not a local Cork decision but signed by “Management Revenue Protection Connolly Station”  Connolly station is Iarnroid Eireann's headquarters.

This circular clearly singles out same sex couples.  Whether or not it was technically legal to do so for much of that period is irrelevant. We have to ask the question of why the company would specifically pursue such a policy against what is still a very small grouping in society, if not for homophobic reasons. 

Read more on the struggle for Marriage equality in Ireland