Annoying Christian Evangelist Gets €70,000 Compensation for Unfair Dismissal

More PC nonsense

Father Noel FurlongSuppose you believe very strongly that you have the right to play non-stop loops of Irish dancing music to your workmates, or tell them thousands of bad jokes.  Suppose you’re such a bore that you even pursue them to the canteen to drive them off their trolleys with your incessant babbling.

In other words, you are Father Noel Furlong.  You are one annoying little git and you won’t shut up even when your workmates complain.  Not even when the customers complain and your boss tells you to give it a rest.

No, because you’re convinced you have a right to bore the shit out of everyone else with your specialised subjects, Irish dancing and doctor-doctor jokes.

This guy walks into his doctor’s surgery, with a strawberry growing out of his head.

The doctor says, I’ll give you some cream for that.

Boom Boom!

We’ll have a little bit of the Siege of Ennis.  All together now!

Well and good.   Your employer gives you four stern warnings that you’ll be sacked if you don’t stop all this guff and let people alone, but you ignore him and buttonhole yet another hapless victim:

This guy walks into his doctor’s surgery.   He has a parsnip shoved up his nose and a carrot stuck in his ear.

The doctor says, You’re not eating properly!

Boom Boom!

Right!  What about the Walls of Limerick?   Get up there, Bridie!

The boss has had enough.  Sorry Noel, he says.   This caravan isn’t big enough for all of us.   You’re out.

What?  But I was only tellin’ a few jokes and havin’ a bit of a dance.  I have to do it.  I’m entitled to do it.

Do it somewhere else, says the boss.   You’re fired.

Well, I never … I never …

Shocked and rejected, you skip and jig your way to the Equality Tribunal.

I’ve been sacked for no reason.   All I did was tell people jokes.   It’s not my fault if they complained.

Did your employers ask you to stop?

They did, but —

How many times?

Four, but —

And you didn’t stop?

No, but I’m entitled to tell people jokes, even if they don’t want to hear them.

No you’re not.   Fuck off and stop wasting my time. 

God said I have to do it.

What?  What did you say?

God told me to do it.  

Well why didn’t you say so, Father Furlong?  Why didn’t you tell me your actions are based on magic?  That changes everything.  How much compensation would you like?

I’d like about seventy grand, if that’s ok.

That’s fine, Father.  For some reason, I just never thought of you as a believer.

What’s yellow and swings through the jungle?

I don’t know, Father.  What?

Tarzipan!! Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!  Let’s have a few bars of the Mason’s Apron.  Round the court and mind the witness stand!


That’s not a million miles from the story of John McAteer, an engineer with South Tipperary County Council, who wouldn’t shut up about Jesus, no matter how much his employers begged him.  He evangelised members of the public when he was supposed to be checking the progress of footpath repairs.  He interrupted his colleagues’ lunch-breaks to tell them about Jesus.  He  even tried to convert a contractor working for the Council.

His excuse?  It’s part of his beliefs.

To which most right thinking people would say So what if you believe in fairytales?

But not the equality officer, who gave great weight to the fact that this man’s actions were dictated by an incorporeal deity that ordered him to tell people about a Middle-eastern zombie.

Apparently, if you behave like an utter knob you can safely be sacked, but not if you have the delusion that an invisible spirit is telling you what to do.

That’s all right, then.  I look forward to using the same argument if I’m ever arrested for driving at 120 mph with a half pound of cocaine on the dashboard and a quart of whiskey to my lips, firing an M16 while canoodling with four Latvian hookers.

You see, judge, it’s part of my religious beliefs.

Yeah.  Right.

19 thoughts on “Annoying Christian Evangelist Gets €70,000 Compensation for Unfair Dismissal

  1. Well you may get away with it. May I suggest Ms Marion Duffy as part of your defence team.

  2. I haven’t read the full details, but the case seems to have been taken on the grounds of discriminatory treatment.

    Had I been representing the man, I would have pointed out how Roman Catholic employees are allowed to talk about their religious practices – including Baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations, Weddings and Funerals – without rebuke.

    If the workplace was not neutral, devoid of anything associated with traditional religion, then there were justifiable grounds for a claim of discrimination

  3. If you read the decision carefully you will see that the monitoring of Mr McAteer by his employer was to the point of harassment. When he was asked to desist from proselytising in work, he did. Everybody he was spotted speaking to outside the office was asked whether they were offended by anything he said and all replied that they were not. Still he was fired even though there was no problem with his work. He strikes me as as a Katie Taylor-type – an anachronism in our modern age but a firing offence?. Should public resources be spent micro-managing an employee with a different religion to the majority? I think not.

  4. If a Council engineer had been approaching members of the public trying to enlist support for Manchester United it would be inappropriate, never mind talking about his private religious beliefs.

  5. Is a ruling from Equality Tribunal binding or can the council ignore it !

  6. I think the case does point to sectarianism within Irish society. If someone went around asking for a Mass card to be signed, would that be construed as imposition of private religious beliefs?

  7. Sorry, not being conversant with these things, I thought that those offering condolences also put their name to it.

    If I were of a conservative evangelical frame of mind, though, I think I would find many instances of Roman Catholic religion being imposed upon me – from the Angelus being played on the television for which I must pay a licence fee, to ethos committees in publicly-funded hospitals, to tax funded schools being run as adjuncts of parishes, to even greetings in the Irish language.

    Being an English liberal, I dodge awkward stuff, but I can see how the man would regard his preaching as his duty as school teachers regard teaching prayers as their duty.

  8. I also find the Angelus annoying, I oppose ethics committees and I abhor church control of schools. But the existence of these things doesn’t justify people preaching in the office.

  9. All I can in this case is “Jah! Rastafari!”

    Followed swiftly by “Smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em”

  10. Bock, Go back and read the original decision not the Irish Times’s blinkered coverage of it. He was not trying to recruit people to his religion. He just talked about God a lot. Unusual yes but a firing offence? The Council approached people he spoke to asking whether they wished to make a complaint. Nobody did – neither staff nor the people he encountered. If they had, the Council would be on stronger ground. He was dismissed with no evidence of poor performance or bringing the Council into disrepute.

    No 8, Equality Officers are legally qualified. I see from the Bar Council’s register that Marian Duffy is a barrister.

  11. Orl, I’d be very interested to read the report of the tribunal, if you happen to have a link available.

  12. Bock, someone posted this Link on Broadsheet a few weeks back.
    You’ll probably get the report there..

    My own opinion is that people shouldn’t be fired unless they’re incompetent, and even at that, they should be given a chance to improve. They should have expectations clearly defined etc.
    If it’s ok to fire people for talking about God, I think anyone who talks about football should be fired.

  13. Mr McAteer in his submission to the tribunal said he was sharing the word of Jesus, yet somehow, the equality officer found that this was not the same thing as preaching.

    If a complete stranger walks up to me in the street and shares the word of Jesus with me for five or ten minutes, I would certainly take that as preaching, which is no part of a public servant’s role.


    Sorry I thought i had posted the link before. I’m afraid Artemis is getting his Tribunals mixed up. From my reading of the decision the Equality Officer noted that when Mr McAteer was asked to desist from talking about God to colleagues, he did. Every person Mr McAteer seemed to speak to on the street was approached and asked did they want to make a complaint about him. Nobody did. It was the Council who surmised that he was preaching. The evidence against him was flimsy. That’s why he won his case.

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