South African Students ‘Humiliated’ After Being Denied Entry to Ireland Bar Based on ‘No Blacks Allowed’ Policy 

Photo courtesy of SplitShire

Photo courtesy of SplitShire

Two South African students studying in Ireland say they experienced a blatant act of racism after they were denied entry into a popular Irish bar.

Ezile Mhlambiso and her friend, Anathi, had hopes of dining at Dublin’s Busker Temple Bar Sunday evening, as they had a friend visiting from out of town. Imagine their surprise when the bouncer told them there were “no Blacks allowed” in the establishment.

“He was dead serious,” Anathi told Ireland’s RTÉ Radio 1 Liveline. “We spoke to him to see if he was being serious or if maybe there was a language problem, but it was not a joke, not at all.”

Mhlambiso recalls the security guard “stretching out his arms,” refusing to let them in when they arrived at the bar. The bouncer was of Polish descent, according to information gathered from a Yelp! review of the pub.

“I was denied access to a place because of my skin color,” said Mhlambiso, who has lived in Ireland for nine months and is pursuing a Master’s degree in International Development at University College Dublin, the reports.

The students further questioned the bar’s discriminatory policy and asked to speak with a manager. However, the bouncer refused them. Mhlambiso said it took another representative to put them in contact with the pub’s manager.

Once she relayed what happened with the bouncer, Mhlambiso said, “The manager was like, ‘There’s no way that guy could have said that.’ The manager claimed the bouncer had been ‘working there for 13 years’ and there’s no way he could have said something like that.”

Ezile Mhlambiso, one of the South African students turned away from an Irish pub because she was Black . Photo courtesy of Ezile Mhlambiso

Ezile Mhlambiso, one of the South African students turned away from an Irish pub because she was Black . Photo courtesy of Ezile Mhlambiso

But when Mhlambiso’s friend asked the manager if he supported the bouncer’s decision, he replied “Yes.”

“And we asked him again, ‘So you’re telling us you support the decision made by the bouncer?,’ ” Mhlambiso told Atlanta Black Star. “He [my friend] even asked if we couldn’t go in now that we’ve spoken to the manager and stuff, but still he said no. The bouncer has his reasons.”

In the radio interview, Mhlambiso revealed that she had visited the bar once before and never encountered any issues. Sunday was the first time she was informed of the “no Blacks allowed” rule.

While Anathi and Mhlambiso were outside being turned away, other (white) customers were allowed inside the establishment.

“There were people going in and out and inside wasn’t full at all,” Mhlambiso told Atlanta Black Star. “I was just puzzled. I didn’t know what was happening.”

She recalls a group of patrons sitting outside the pub who witnessed the entire ordeal.

“I don’t know if they heard us or whatever,” Mhlambiso explained. “But I went to them and asked them, ‘Is there anything going on inside, maybe a private function that we’re not allowed to go into?’ And the girl was like ‘No, there’s nothing going on inside.’ ”

Mhlambiso and Anathi left following the embarrassing incident and vowed to never return to the pub. Mhlambiso said her friend told the bar’s manager, “You’ll be hearing from us very soon,” upon which he responded, “We’ll be looking forward to it.”

The pair said they waited over an hour to report the ordeal to the Irish authorities, known as Garda. They were advised by an official to return in two days to make an official statement, although their claims probably wouldn’t get very far.

“Monday evening, I got a call from her [the Garda official] saying, ‘Oh it’s pointless for you to come in tomorrow to give a statement because it’s not a criminal offense,’ ” Mhlambiso said.

Mhlambiso has since faced backlash from critics accusing her of pulling the race card and using the incident for publicity.

“I’m not using the race card,” Mhlambiso told Atlanta Black Star. “I just wanted to expose institutional racism, that’s it. And that racism is alive in Dublin. If we wanted conversation or anything, we would have gone to solicitors to begin with … it’s just a matter of creating awareness.”

Mhlambiso said she isn’t seeking further action, but the incident is still under investigation. Anathi, on the other hand, plans to contact Ireland’s equity commissioner.

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