Blind man gets damages after guide dog turned away from restaurant

Mr Cosgrove and his pal Imogen (Pic Kevin Scott/Belfast Telegraph)
Mr Cosgrove and his pal Imogen (Pic Kevin Scott/Belfast Telegraph)

A blind man who was turned away from an Indian restaurant in Bangor because he had his guide dog with him has been awarded damages.

Mr Cosgrove and his pooch, Imogen, a Labrador retriever cross, had gone to the Bangla Indian restaurant in Bangor, County Down, with a friend for a meal, but he was refused entry on the basis that he had a dog with him.

 When a waiter refused to let the dog into the restaurant, Mr Cosgrove's friend explained that Imogen is a guide dog, and that it is against the law to refuse a guide dog access to a restaurant.

 When the waiter checked with management, their response was that Mr Cosgrove could ether tie Imogen up outside or get a carry-out.

 Upset and embarrassed, Mr Cosgrove and his friend left the restaurant.

After bringing a case against the restaurant, Mr Cosgrove was awarded £1,250 as well as his legal costs.

The owners of Bangla restaurant have apologised unreservedly to him.

Mr Cosgrove said: "On the day this happened, I felt terrible being denied admission in front of other people.

"Even though my friend explained what the law is, it made no difference.

"Because I was able to take my case with the help of the Equality Commission, the owner of the restaurant has apologised and agreed to look at changes to the restaurant's policies so that this doesn't happen to someone else, and that's really what I want."

       Bangla restaurant in Bangor

Andrew Murdock of Guide Dogs NI said: "Guide dog owners continue to face difficulties in accessing everyday services and facilities that the rest of us take for granted.

"Looking forward to an evening out, only to be turned away at the door because your guide dog is not welcome, is the humiliating experience that many guide dog owners like Jim face all too often.

"The law is clear on this and we welcome this settlement and hope it will raise awareness of this issue."