A NEWCASTLE West publican had a case against him and his bar manager struck out because it couldn’t be established what law was broken during the fast-shifting regulations of Covid.
Newcastle West court heard evidence from a Garda who had been informed in an anonymous phone call about people coming and going from Ned Kelly’s Bar, Newcastle West, in Maiden Street on May 12, 2021.
The Garda told the court that when he arrived at the bar in the early hours of that morning, he found seven people on the premises – five in the bar and two in the toilets.
He said the country was under level 5 restrictions at the time and the pub should have closed at 11.30pm.
“None of the people there were wearing masks and none were social distancing. I asked to see the record of details of people who had visited the premises. There was no record book,” he said.
The court heard that when the Garda spoke to bar manager Maureen Ryan she was “very co-operative and apologised”, and cleared the bar at once.
The court was told that the owner, Michael O’Kelly, was not on the premises at the time.
Solicitor for the defendants, Rossa McMahon, argued that the summons which brought them before the court did not contain any specifics about which regulation had allegedly been broken.
“There were a huge number of regulations at that time. It is up to the State to produce the statutory instrument and it should at least be specified in the summons which of these they were said to be in breach of.”
Inspector Gearoid Thompson told the court that while the legislation was changing “every day we came into work”, the bar owner and manager “were aware of what they were doing. We were in a pandemic and there was a health risk.”
He said the wording of the summons was a matter that was out of the hands of prosecuting Gardaí and came from “on high”.
Striking out the charges, Judge Carol Ann Coolican said that while she did “accept that the laws were complicated” and constantly shifting at the time, the statutory instrument under which they could be prosecuted had not been produced.