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Gardaí object to Achill pub licence renewal on grounds of Covid-19 breaches

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Gardaí have objected to the renewal of a licence for a pub on Achill Island in Co Mayo for alleged breaches of Covid-19 regulations in one of the first cases of its kind.

Objecting to a renewal for Ted Lavelle’s Public House in Cashel, Achill before Achill District Court, Inspector Dennis Harrington alleged that “ongoing breaches” of the Covid-19 rules are occurring.

Two cases have already been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration. The DPP has directed prosecution for one and a decision is pending on the second.

Saying that local gardaí could have issued more prosecutions against licensee, Joseph Fadian, Insp Harrington said the State “doesn’t take lightly an application to remove a man’s livelihood”. Gardaí did want local compliance with Covid regulations and every other Achill licensed premises had been inspected the same number of times “without any issues”, the officer said.

However, Mr Fadian has “consistently ignored” advice from the four local gardaí. The objection was “a last resort”, Insp Harrington told Judge Fiona Lydon.

He asked for an adjournment until November. In the meantime, gardaí will monitor the pub’s conduct. A different attitude “may” be taken then if they see a change of approach by Mr Fadian.

Defending solicitor Rory O’Connor said the publican had not been given the mandatory 21 days’ notice, and that the gardaí’s application was flawed as a consequence.

The publican feels he is compliant, and has a “difference of opinion” with gardaí, he said. He asked that gardaí go to the premises with him and his client to discuss what breaches are taking place.

He said the precise regulations are evolving regularly. Even ministers are not fully clear about them and he asked how could publicans be fully up to speed with them as a consequence.

The solicitor also asked if there was any publication that set out the regulations. He said he did not want to do so, but that he could write to the inspector asking him to specify which regulations were being breached.

Regulations clear

However, Insp Harrington said some regulations were clear from the start, including rules that customers cannot sit at bar counters and that drink must be brought to tables and that customers must have a meal.

“It will be alleged by the State that he is openly in breach of them [regulations] . . . We’ve given the advice, it’s not rocket science. The regulations are very clear,” he declared.

“ You cannot be served at the counter, you must be seated and you cannot remain there longer than one hour and 45 minutes. He is failing to comply regularly, that is our allegation. He continues to ignore the advice given,” said Insp Harrington. Mr Fadian had an obligation to be in compliance with the Health Act 1947 as amended, he said.

Insp Harrington said each of the four gardaí in Achill had already given such advice to Mr Fadian.

He said if Mr Fadian “changes his ways” in two months, the matter “may not trouble the court”.

The judge said the State had been “more than reasonable”. She advised Mr O’Connor to have a discussion with his client, adjourned the matter to November 12th and directed Mr Fadian to obey existing, and new regulations.

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