The Equality Tribunal has found that a primary school discriminated against a teacher on the grounds of age, religion and sexual orientation and has ordered it to pay her €54,000 in compensation.

The discrimination took place at an interview for the position of school principal at which the teacher was asked "what about the homos?".

The Equality Tribunal ruled that this and other questions were unlawful.

The school had advertised for a new principal in 2011.

The teacher at the centre of the case had been working as deputy principal at the school for eight years and she applied for the job.

An initial interview process was deemed invalid because it had breached regulations.

After a second round of interviews the job was given to another applicant who was considerably younger, had considerably less experience, and who was less qualified.

The decision to award both candidates the same mark for experience and qualifications led the Equality Officer to conclude that the teacher had been discriminated against on the grounds of her age.

The Equality Tribunal also found that the claimant was asked discriminatory questions.

The teacher told the tribunal that one interviewer, known as Sr B, "zeroed in" on the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism.

She said she was asked for her personal opinions about the work of the forum and not how she would envisage guiding a school through a change in patronage or similar.

She said the line of questioning made her feel "very insecure".

Sr B told the tribunal she had been concerned about what the applicant would do with children whose parents did not want them to participate in the school's religious instruction programme.

The tribunal ruled that this line of questioning constituted religious discrimination.

The teacher told the tribunal that she had been "floored" when Sr B then asked her "what about the homos"?.

Although Sr B and other members of the interview panel denied that she had asked this question the tribunal says it is satisfied that the question was asked.

It said the question was an attempt to ascertain the complainant's sexual orientation without asking the question directly, and was unlawful.

The tribunal was also critical of the fact that Sr B and another member of the interview board had thrown out their notes of the interview at a time when a complaint had already been lodged with the tribunal.

The school, which was not identified, is in the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly.