A FORMER Mayo County Councillor has been running a pub without a valid licence since 2009. Former Independent councillor Henry ‘Harry’ Walsh of Kilmaine admitted in Castlebar District Court last week that the licence on his pub on Main Street, Kilmaine, has never been in his name, despite trading for over 30 years.
The court heard that the last licence on the pub known as Harry Walsh’s Bar expired in September 2009, and that it was in the name of his late mother, who died in 2003. The property transferred into Mr Walsh’s name when she died, but the licence for the pub never did.
The matter came to light when revenue inspector, Thomas Connaughton visited the bar on November 12, 2010. After ordering a glass of Jameson, Mr Connaughton identified himself to Mr Walsh and asked if he had a licence to sell alcohol. Mr Walsh replied that he didn’t.
Mr Walsh, who was an Independent councillor for the Ballinrobe Electoral Area from 2004 to 2009, said the pub was a family business and that he had been trading for 30 years before his mother died and continued to trade since.
He explained that following Mr Connaughton’s visit he has tried to get his ‘house in order’ and has also ‘set in train’ improvements needed to satisfy a fire officer. However, he said there were delays with the contractor, and that it had cost him over €4,000 to complete the work last year.
Mr Walsh said a fire officer had inspected his premises in December 2010 and given him a list of works to be completed before he could transfer the licence into his name.
Judge Mary Devins queried why the summons had only been issued in October 2011, despite the inspection taking place nearly a full year before hand. Mr Connaughton said he handed in his report in 2010 while State Solicitor, Vincent Deane said he only received the file in October 2011.
Judge Devins said the agencies of the State has turned a blind eye and felt bringing the prosecution now was an ‘insult to the district court’. She dismissed the case giving Mr Walsh the benefit of the Probation Act.