Monaghan Athiest loses discrimination case over free travel to Papal Mass

Prominent Atheist and member of the Congregationalist Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, John Hamill has failed in a discrimination action over not getting free Luas travel on the day of the Papal Mass in the Phoenix Park last August.

In his case before the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), Mr Hamill was claiming he was indirectly discriminated against by the National Transport Authority (NTA) by refusing him free travel on the Luas on August 26th last to the Phoenix Park on the same day the NTA allowed free travel to people who had tickets to attend the Phoenix Park to see Pope Francis.

At the WRC Adjudication hearing into his claim, Mr Hamill showed photographic evidence that he travelled on the Luas to the Phoenix Park station on August 26th 2018 where he is seen wearing a colander on his head as colanders are the headwear of CCFSM ‘pastafarians’.

Mr Hamill paid €3.70 for his Luas ticket and told the WRC hearing that
he attended the CCFSM concelebration in a restaurant close to the Phoenix Park and that those who attended were, like him, all former Catholic, now Atheist – who were celebrating their non-Catholicism and discussing the benefits of not being Catholic.

In the run-up to the event, Mr Hamill wrote to the NTA formally requesting that it should extend its offer of free public transport to those attending the ceremony to be conducted by the Congregationalist Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster at the Phoenix Park.

In response, the NTA in a letter stated that it was “not able to provide free travel for your event. The primary reason for making travel free for those attending the Papal Mass is crowd safety at the main boarding locations”.

The NTA told Mr Hamill that the organisers have advised that approximately 500,000 people would attend the Phoenix Park event “so our priority is for fast and safe transport on the day”.

In his claim, Mr Hamill was seeking a finding that he was indirectly discriminated against by the NTA and a refund of €3.70, the cost of the Luas ticket that he purchased to attend the CCFSM event.

The NTA employed McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors to represent it at the hearing and it stated that “the provision of free transport on August 26th 2018 was not concerned with religion. It was to ensure a safe public transport system to address the potential
hazard to crowd safety arising from the anticipated numbers at the event”.

It stated that the fact that “the numbers ultimately materialised not to be as high as was anticipated was not foreseeable”

The NTA claimed that Mr Hamill’s was vexatious and frivolous.

In her ruling, WRC Adjudication Officer, Emile Daly stated that she did not accept that evidence has been adequately made out that Mr Hamill’s claim was ‘vexatious’ and ‘frivolous’ and that Mr Hamill is entitled to bring his complaint.

Ms Daly stated: “Even though the tone in the Complainant’s correspondence is satirical and at times comedic, this belies a serious contention being raised and one that the Complainant is entitled to make. Consequently, I do not find this complaint to be frivolous, vexatious or misconceived.”

However, Ms Daly found that the complaint under the Equal Status Act 2000 fails for want of jurisdiction.

Ms Daly stated that there is no right to an adjudication where a Complainant does not follow the mandatory pre-litigation steps set out in the Equal Status Act 2000.

She stated that in this case the NTA was not put on notice of the nature of the allegation in advance of the adjudication and the complaint must fail.