Gardaí are investigating the operation of a suspected "shebeen" in Rathkeale, Co Limerick, after a number of people were found socialising there on New Year's Day.
Gardaí were conducting patrols in the town at 4pm on Friday and were alerted to activity at the rear of a former licensed premises.
“While conducting further inquiries, a number of persons were seen fleeing the area, through a private dwelling, on foot,” a Garda spokeswoman said.
“Gardaí entered the premises and discovered a number of individuals socialising inside with large amounts of alcohol, playing cards with two open fires lit. The premises is not licensed to trade alcohol.”
Pictures released by An Garda Síochána show a bar with an open fire and bottles and cans strewn about the premises.
Gardaí took details of all persons present and investigations have commenced into the use of the unlicensed premises for alcohol consumption and breaching Covid-19 public health regulations.
A file will be prepared and forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for direction.
Adare-Rathkeale has one of the highest incidence rates of Covid-19 in the country, with a 14-day incidence rate of 660.4 per 100,000, as of December 28th. A total of 183 coronavirus cases were there reported between December 15th and 28th.
Gardaí in Newcastle West are appealing to anyone who may have information on the operation of this premises to contact them on 069 20048 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.
In November, Garda sources said the demand for places to meet and socialise would increase during Christmas and New Year as “wet pubs” were not open, but said Operation Navigation, which targets breaches of the licensing trade, would be intensified.