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Gardaí object to Achill pub licence for alleged Covid breaches

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT Ted Lavelles, Achill Island. Pic: Michael McLaughlin



Edwin McGreal


Gardaí have initiated an objection to the renewal of a licence for a pub on Achill Island for alleged breaches of Covid-19 regulations.
At today’s (Thursday) sitting of Achill District Court, Inspector Denis Harrington told Judge Fiona Lydon that he was objecting to the renewal of the license for gastropub Ted Lavelle’s Public House in Cashel, Achill, for what he said were ‘ongoing breaches’ of Covid-19 legislation brought in for the reopening of restaurants and pubs that serve food on July 1 last.
Inspector Harrington said gardaí had referred two cases relating to alleged Covid breaches at the food-serving premises to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration. He told the court the DPP has directed prosecution for one and a decision is pending on the second. He said they could have issued more prosecutions against this premises.
He added the State ‘doesn’t take lightly an application to remove a man’s livelihood’ but said they wanted compliance with Covid regulations and that every other premises in Achill was inspected the same number of times ‘without any issues’. He said the proprietor of Ted’s, Mr Joseph Fadian, has ‘consistently ignored’ advice from four local gardaí and that the application is ‘a last resort’.
However, Inspector Harrington asked for the case to be adjourned until the November sitting of Achill District Court and said in the interim, gardaí would continue to monitor the premises. He said that if gardaí observed a change in approach by the licensee, they ‘may’ take a different approach in November.
Defending solicitor Rory O’Connor said there was an issue with the lack of notice to this application, that the mandatory 21 days notice was not complied with and that the application was flawed as a consequence.
He also said that his client feels he is compliant and there is a ‘difference of opinion’ with the Gardaí on this. He asked that gardaí go to the premises with his client and him today to discuss what breaches are taking place.
He said the precise regulations were evolving regularly and that the government ministers who announced the regulations are not fully clear about them and asked how publicans could be fully up to speed with them as a consequence.

Table service
Inspector Harrington said some regulations were clear from the start, including that customers cannot sit at the counter – drink must be brought to them at a table.
“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. 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 by gardaí,” said Inspector Harrington.
Defending solicitor Rory O’Connor asked if there was any publication which sets out the regulations. He said he did not want to but could write to the inspector asking him to specify which regulations were being breached.  
Inspector Harrington said Mr Fadian had an obligation to be in compliance with the Health Act 1947 As Amended.
Judge Fiona Lydon said the State has been ‘more than reasonable’. She advised Mr O’Connor to have a ‘discussion’ with his client. Inspector Harrington said each of the four gardaí in Achill had already given such advice to Mr Fadian.
Inspector Harrington said if Mr Fadian ‘changes his ways’ in two months, the matter ‘may not trouble the court’.
Judge Lydon adjourned the matter to November 12 and directed Mr Fadian to keep the premises Covid compliant, including complying with any future regulations if and when they come into effect.