IrishRail’s gaywatch – Confirm they are on lookout to stop gay couples

It seems that IrishRail is actively watching out for gay and lesbian couples who might be getting the train. Minister for Setting things back 30 years Mary Coughlan, when she was in charge of social welfare put a law in place that denied samesex couples the ability to travel on a companion travel pass and IrishRail started enforcing it this year. They now have public notices in train stations that state:

Only named persons that have signed the rear of the pass and that are of a different gender are entitled to use the pass.

Irish, blacks, no gays

The “rules” mean that you can claim a companion pass even if you are unmarried, once the person is of the opposite sex. You can blab on about the Constitution and the protection of marriage and such but if unmarried couples who are not gay or lesbian can get the pass then that’s some serious inequality there. Or an old person with a non-loving, non-sexual partner. Up to the rule change by Coughlan, samesex couples could claim the pass if they passed the same eligibility tests as heterosexual couples. Of course if an elderly gay couple(I hear there’s at least 4 in the country) and an elderly lesbian couple went training around the country they would be allowed if they put a person from the other couple on their pass and vice-versa.

IrishRail’s spokesperson confirmed in an email to Suzy Byrne that they have been stopping gay couples from availing of this.

Maybe they should those World War II propganda posters too?
Photo owned by Ligadier Truffaut (cc)

29 Responses to “IrishRail’s gaywatch – Confirm they are on lookout to stop gay couples”

  1. What insanity. Surely they should be expending their efforts to make sure trains arrive/depart on time and that the service is properly upgraded/managed to serve the needs of commuters.

    I would doubt if this would stand up to scrutiny against the equality legislation. Total insanity.

  2. Sinéad says:

    Crazy. Not impressed with that at all. It’s worse it’s getting, now you have to pay to be gay

  3. Suzy Byrne says:

    Darragh it was originally found to be against the equality legislation so Mary Coughlan when she was minister for social and family affairs brought a law in to make disciminating on this basis legal.

    ie. the law now says that A relationship recognised for social welfare benefit purposes was that between people of the opposite sex.

    And the other thing about this – the agency which helped a gay couple prove that they were getting discriminated against in the first place? Well the govt are merging the Equality Authority cos they are a bit too good at their job.

  4. Neil says:

    I have that tshirt, and love it!

    Yet more disgraceful, which only serves to question further the Government promise to provide social welfare equality as part of their civil partnerships bill.

  5. Susan says:

    On one hand, it makes no difference if you’re gay in the Northwest because you’ve got NO train to go anywhere anyhow. Yep, they’re sure spending their money on the right priorities, that ol’ IrishRail. NOT.

    On the other hand, I’m sick. And completely embarassed for us as a nation.

  6. Aido says:

    Unbelievable – Its sick

  7. Hayley says:

    Yup, blatant discrimination, albeit ‘legal’ a la Coughlan. And does that mean that if I sign on I don’t count…I mean as cohabiting with someone of the same sex? Obviously we don’t count as passengers, or consumers, on the will-it-or-won’t it rail service. I’m doubly offended at the tone the rail notice takes – from the ‘Manager of Revenue Control’ – “oh, those homosexuals, they’re costing railways a fortune”. Back to the writing desk – I feel a European Commission letter coming on (and probably to Ms Coughlan herself, if I can hold back the bile long enough…)

  8. Not impressed. Will any politician have the ‘courage’ to take this one on. It’s called a *companion* pass not a husband/ wife pass. Next up for Irish rail: women not allowed in bars [again]?

  9. Marie Boran says:

    Is it not unconstitutional and illegal to exclude someone from a public transport deal/offer based on gender? A companion should surely be classed as travel companion?

    On an emotional level I am also completely sickened, outraged and disgusted. Shame on you Irish Rail, you shower of short-sighted, backwards and pig ignorant so and so’s.

  10. B'dum says:

    That’s so awful that I’m laughing at it’s ridiculousness.

  11. Simon McGarr says:

    I’d love to have a conversation with anyone confronted by Irish Rail in relation to this matter.

    Passing laws doesn’t always make something legal.

  12. Hayley says:

    At work, just been reading the HSE’s ‘Resonding to Allegations of Elder Abuse’ which defines elder abuse as “A single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person or violates their human and civil rights”. Think Iarnrod Eireann have just given a great example of that…

  13. […] Iarnród Eireann are clamping down on same sex couples from availing of their ‘companian passes’ on their shit trains according to Mr. Mulley. […]

  14. We elect some class examples of dumb backward politicians in this country.


  15. How do Irish rail determine your sex?

  16. Bock –

    Iarnrod Eireann have a simple test: if you are able to stomach taking a leak in the urine soaked loos then you’re probably a guy because you don’t have to sit in it and it doesn’t smell much worse than the jacks in your local pub.

    And Simon is right – just because it is the law is passed doesn’t mean it’s legal… if the legislation that ‘tweaked’ things was discriminatory in the first place then who knows what might happen.

    I don’t think it would fly as a defence with my missus if I went on the beers with a load of wimmin on the grounds that my companions had to be of the opposite gender. Definite glacial temperatures Chez O Brien if I tried that one.

    Letters to Mary Hanafin (the current DSFA Minister) are in order I think.

  17. It’s ludicrous. I’d love to know how the ticket checker will establish what a person’s gender is. Is he going to physically examine people?

  18. Damien says:

    What of the Irish Rail employees that have to do this and don’t want to? How do they feel about it? Have they protested? Were they threatened with sanctions if they did this?

    With their unions so pro equality, I wonder did they make any issue of it?

    They’ve certainly striked when people didn’t get equal pay.

  19. TheChrisD says:

    As I tweeted, it’s a load of crap what they’re doing.

    Say I were to go find a man, fall in love with him and become a couple with him, then he wouldn’t be allowed to travel with me (Not saying that I’m actually looking for someone!)

  20. Damien says:

    Oh he’d still be able to travel with you but he’d have to pay. And I’m sure he would of course cos you have cute bears and all that. Meanwhile his sister could probably travel with you for free.

  21. TheChrisD says:

    If he really loved me that much, he’d be just as cheap and stingy as I am and wouldn’t travel if he had to pay 😉

  22. Simon Murphy says:

    You should all drop a note to the Minister for Social Welfare Mary Hanafin and the Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey telling them how sickened you are by this. Their addresses are below:

  23. Will Knott says:

    Is this one of those legal cases where a settlement should be refused in order to get the law declared unconstitutional, or is discrimination permitted under the constitution?

    Of course you’ll need a couple (preferably newly civil partnered) to fight this one.

    I thought a companion pass could include a named medical helper. So if a nurse of the same sex as the passenger tried to get a patient on a train who needs constant attention on board and accompany them for the trip, but is refused, is there a different law broken? With criminal consequences?

    Please correct me if I’m way off on this one.

  24. Suzy Byrne says:

    A Companion pass for disabled person is different from age related pass Will.


    There is a pass for people with disabilities/under 66 which allows you to bring someone with you.

    However if you are over 66 and not in receipt of carers allowance etc it must be your wife or cohabittee of the opposite sex

  25. T says:

    Has this changed?

    I just had a read of, and I can find no mention of the word ‘sex’ or ‘gender’ in the text at all. There is nothing on that page to say that the person accompanying you cannot be of the same sex.

    It does make mention of husband and wife several times. That’s fair enough – the definition of ‘spouse’ in this country is still ‘husband and wife’. But apart from that, here is the only quote I can find:

    Only the named person can use the Free Travel Pass, you cannot let another person use it.”

    (Page Last Updated: 7th May 2008)

    Part 2 of form FT1 mentions ‘spouse/partner’, but makes no mention of opposite gender.
    (FT1 is the form you fill in to apply for a Free Travel pass.)

  26. says:

    I just discovered that if you are a widow/widower when you reach 66 there is no option on your free travel pass to add a companion, i.e. a person who, when travelling with you, travels free….. a further piece of discrimination. I suppose you could ask for another pass if you have a partner, but why assume you don’t? Typical of the attitude of DFSA. My experience with them is that you have to demand your rights, they never tell you that you have any, their approach is always based on ‘prove it’ or ‘I’ll tell you what you can get’

    Bye, Barry

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