Sligo District Court has shut down a soup kitchen and charity shop in the town after questions were raised about its legality.
Oliver Williams, the owner of the Twist Soup Kitchen and an associated charity shop, was accused of not registering both of them as charities in breach of the Charities Act. It was the first prosecution of its kind taken under the Act.
Tom MacSharry, solicitor for Mr Williams, applied to have the case adjourned but Donal Keane, representing the Charities Regulator, objected and said his client had serious concerns about the operation.
Mr Keane said that as long as the two premises remained open, further offences were being committed and unsuspecting people in Sligo were handing over money to an unregulated charity.
Mr Williams told the court the soup kitchen fed 40 people every day in Sligo and its only income was from the charity shop. He said the shop made about €200 to €250 a week which covered the weekly rent of each premises.
He said if the shop closed, there would be no money for the soup kitchen.
Judge Kevin Kilraine questioned Mr Williams about the finances of the shop. He was told that it was all done on a cash basis and receipts were only given for bigger items like furniture. Mr Williams said it was a shoestring operation and there was never any excess.
Judge Kilraine said the only basis on which he would grant an adjournment would be if both operations closed immediately He said nothing short of tight regulation and oversight was acceptable.
Mr MacSharry said he was fighting for the soup kitchen which was a necessary part of the fabric in Sligo.
Judge Kilraine said he was reluctantly ordering a closure, but he expected the St Vincent de Paul Society would step in to fill the gap.
The judge adjourned the case for a week.