A taxi driver who refused to let a guide dog belonging to a blind couple into his taxi has been ordered to pay the couple €1,000 in compensation, according to an Equality Tribunal ruling published last week.

The taxi driver, named in the ruling as Mr Orayinyin, claimed he had a phobia of dogs as a result of the death of a family member who was bitten by a dog. He was also fined €250 by the taxi regulator over the incident.

Nicholas Kealy, who is totally blind, told the tribunal that he approached the taxi rank at around midnight on 2 February 2008 with his girlfriend, who is also blind. His girlfriend was carrying a white stick and Kealy had a guide dog which was wearing a full reflective harness.

Kealy said Orayinyin lock­ed the car doors and told the couple through the window that while he would take them, he would not take the dog.

Kealy told Orayinyin that he was obliged to take the guide dog and asked for his taxi registration number. He claimed Orayinyin had refused to give this to him.

Matters became heated at that point and Kealy said he was going to call the gardaí. Kealy then put his arm on the taxi to prevent him leaving and he told the tribunal that Orayinyin became aggressive and told him "to get the f*** away from his car".

When the gardaí arrived, Orayinyin told them about his phobia of dogs.

Orayinyin told the tribunal he had subsequently informed the taxi regulator about the incident and was told he was not allowed to refuse to take a dog unless he had provided satisfactory medical evidence about his phobia.