Undercover gardaí are to investigate if West Cork pubs are adhering to rules regarding food and drink, and local gardaí have also received several reports of illegal ‘drinking dens’ operating around the region in recent months.
The owner of a Bandon property, believed to have been operating as a ‘drinking shed’ was spoken to by local gardaí recently, following complaints from the public.
Chief Supt Con Cadogan said that gardaí visited the man’s home in recent weeks but no detection was made, and he said that it didn’t present itself ‘technically’ as a ‘shebeen.’
There was an inspection and the gardaí spoke to the owner following numerous complaints of drinking being carried out at the premises.
‘He was advised – obviously – of the consequences of operating such a facility on his premises and he took the advice on board,’ said Chief Supt Cadogan.
The senior garda said there were two licensing issues involved. ‘It is illegal to sell it [without a licence] and also under the Finance Act, we could bring in the Revenue Commissioners to carry out a full audit of all aspects of business,’ said Chief Supt Cadogan. He also confirmed that gardaí have been receiving several reports across the division from people regarding drinking sheds, or pubs and restaurants which have opened and are not serving food.
‘We’ve carried out inspections and we will be carrying out more,’ he confirmed. ‘Another thing we will be doing is getting plain clothes officers to go into premises and test the system by paying for food and drink, and observe what is going on. But so far there have been no detections in the division and the bars and restaurants in West Cork are being compliant with the guidelines.’
And he pleaded with the public to give specific details and names when making complaints. He said there was an enormous number of anonymous complaints coming in from members of the public but they were not giving the gardaí the ‘specifics’.
‘We take them all seriously, but it would be better if they could back it up and put their name to it,’ he added.
Across the border in Kerry, frustrated publicans have vowed to march to Dublin over the number of illegal pubs or ‘shebeens’ they claims are operating across the county in recent months.
There is still no definite date for the re-opening of ‘wet’ bars across the country, but it is hoped that guidelines will be published later this week.