Gardaí seize ‘substantial quantity’ of alcohol after searching three ‘shebeens’

Beer taps, kegs and coolers also found at unlicensed premises in the midlands

Three suspected “shebeens”, or unlicensed premises, in the midlands have been searched by gardaí following tip-offs from the public.

Gardaí carried out the searches at premises in counties Laois, Meath and Westmeath as part of Operation Navigation, which focuses on compliance with public health regulations by licensed premises.

Substantial quantities of alcohol were seized during the searches on Friday last along with beer taps, coolers, kegs, spirit dispensers and other bar wear. All of those present were identified by gardaí. No arrests were made.

Gardaí said their enquiries are ongoing and files will now be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

"The investigations were launched following a number of reports from the public," a spokesman for An Garda Síochána said on Monday.

John Twomey, Deputy Commissioner for Policing and Security, said the vast majority of licensed premises are complying with the public health guidelines and regulations put in place to try stop the spread of Covid-19.

“The operation of any unlicensed premises puts at risk individuals and communities. This is not acceptable and under Operation Navigation An Garda Síochána will continue to take appropriate action,” he said.

“I would also like to thank members of the public who brought some of these matters to our attention.”

An Garda Síochána has appealed to anyone with information about the operation of illegal “shebeens” to contact their local Garda station.

Gardaí have conducted thousands of checks on licensed premises during the pandemic and said last month that they continued to find “widespread compliance” with the public health regulations.

The total number of potential breaches stood at 232 as of mid-September and mainly related to allegations premises were selling alcohol without also providing food.

Under the latest Level 3 coronavirus restrictions, which came into effect on October 6th for the entire country, wet pubs, restaurants, cafes and bars serving food can remain open for take-away, delivery, and outdoor dining/services to a maximum of 15 people. However, wet pubs in Dublin have remained closed.

Under Level 4 restrictions, which some of the border counties could be facing if the North goes ahead with introducing a lockdown, bars, cafes and restaurants, including those in hotels, can offer takeaway food or delivery with outdoor dining only limited to a maximum of 15 people. In terms of wet pubs, they would be limited to a maximum of 15 people outdoors.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times