Four Mayo siblings have lost a legal action they took against the National University of Ireland, Galway, claiming they were victims of discrimination, because of their religious beliefs.

Isaac and Enoch Burke, along with their sisters Kezia and Ammi, claimed the university had discriminated against them, when they were banned from being members of all college student societies in 2014.

All four are members of the Christian Union Society, which promotes Christian beliefs based on the authority of the scriptures. The society held meetings and events at the college and had 127 members in 2014.

The decision followed an investigation into material circulated by the CUS, which was today described as being, for all intents and purposes, "the fiefdom of the appellants".

Mr Justice Raymond Groarke delivered his judgment in the case at the Circuit Court in Galway, following a three-day hearing last month.

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He said the CUS had failed to engage with an informal process to investigate NUI Galway's concerns about flyers that had been circulated around the university. It offered "misleading, invalid, unfounded and fictional excuses" for this.

He found that the siblings made "every possible and determined effort to cover their tracks"; altered society financial accounts and had misappropriated funds from the CUS.

Acknowledging that the sanction imposed by the university authorities was severe, Mr Justice Groarke said they were entitled to take such action.

Mr Justice Groarke also found that issues raised on appeal were dealt with "factually and fairly".

However, he pointed out that there were many procedural flaws in the process undertaken by NUI Galway. While there were absences of fair and proposer procedures, these were not motivated by religious antipathy.

In addition, the rules "deficient and all as they were, applied equally to all members of the student body".

This morning's proceedings were disrupted when a member of the Burke family interrupted the judge. After a number of warnings, the person was removed from the court by gardaí.

In his concluding remarks, Mr Justice Groarke said the Burke siblings had failed to co-operate with the university's investigation; tried to hinder it; failed to give a "truthful account of the relevant matters even to the present" and had fabricated accounts and misused society funds.

He said NUI Galway had rebutted the presumption of discrimination and dismissed the action by the Burkes.