Judge refuses to renew Laois pub’s licence after gardaí object

Objection to renewal made on grounds of several Covid-19 guideline breaches by pub

The pub is a large premises with a beer garden, music and entertainment section, bar and pool tables. Photograph: iStock

The pub is a large premises with a beer garden, music and entertainment section, bar and pool tables. Photograph: iStock

 

A judge has refused to renew the licence of a pub in Co Laois after gardaí objected, citing breaches of Covid-19 restrictions during the pandemic.

The Co Laois case is believed to be the first time a judge has refused to renew a pub licence in these circumstances.

At Portlaoise District Court last Friday the Garda objected to the renewal of the licence for Lennon’s Public House, Durrow, on the grounds of several breaches of Covid-19 health guidelines since the pandemic began.

Judge Catherine Staines presiding heard submissions from the State, including from Insp Brian Monaghan on behalf of the Garda, as well as from Lennon’s Public House and refused to renew the licence.

A spokesman for the pub declined to comment, at this stage, when contacted by The Irish Times. However, it is understood the publican plans to appeal the court decision.

The pub – which trades as Lennon’s Bar & Venue – is a large premises with a beer garden, music and entertainment section, bar and pool tables.

While pubs across the State are currently closed, when they were open they were subject to rules and restrictions. These included time limits on the period of time customers could be on a premises and earlier closing times.

Pub staff were also required to record the names and contact details of customers in the event contact tracing was required and to take pre-bookings from customers in a bid to avoid overcrowding and facilitate social distancing.

While failing to adhere to some or all of the rules and restrictions was never a criminal offence, gardaí had warned they would object to the renewal of some pub licences if they found breaches.

Shift hours

Meanwhile, Garda members working on the frontline during the pandemic will continue to work special 12-hour shifts until at least the end of June.

Initially the special 12-hour shifts were due to remain in place until the end of last year and when the pandemic continued, and worsened, that time frame was extended to the end of March.

However, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and his senior management team have now decided again to extend the shifts, until the end of June, in a clear sign they expect the Garda’s Covid-19 policing operation to continue until at least that point.

Gardaí have been manning checkpoints nationwide to encourage people to only make essential journeys and have been taking enforcement action against those in breach of current travel restrictions as part of Level 5 of the Living with Covid-19 plan.

Gardaí have also been carrying out inspections on licenced premises, mainly pubs, to ensure they have remained closed and on the retail sector to enforce measures that have closed most retailers under the current rules.

The Garda’s pandemic policing operation has sought to reach out to isolated or vulnerable people to help them during the lock-down period. Gardaí have also undertaken added efforts to combat domestic violence.

The policing operation has come under pressure of late due to the number of gardaí who have contracted Covid-19 or have been forced to isolate because they were a close contact of a confirmed case.