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Rock Bingo owner tells of heartbreak after shutdown

The Rock Bingo hall was closed last week after gardaí searched the premises under the Gaming and Lotteries Act. Its owner, James Barber, said the company have done nothing wrong.

A woman playing bingo at Rock Bingo in Cork, before its closure
A woman playing bingo at Rock Bingo in Cork, before its closure
Image: Gerard McCarthy Photography via Fuzion PR

THE CORK BINGO hall that was shut down despite a high court order will remain closed until the situation is resolved.

The Rock Bingo premises was shut after a last-minute garda raid last week, during which the gardaí seized the bingo books, operator Dave Barber told TheJournal.ie last week.

A garda spokesperson said that they searched the premises under the Gaming and Lotteries Act and that it was up to the courts to determine if the company had breached any part of the act.

A devastated James Barber, owner of the operation, said today:

This is a crushing blow for everyone here at Rock Bingo, my team, our newly recruited staff, our catering company and of course our customers. Last Thursday when we opened was the first time I was able to relax in months and to be honest it has really taken a big toll on myself and my family.

The company obtained an emergency order in the High Court last week that restrained gardaí from “obstructing or hindering” any lottery on their premises.

The move came after gardaí entered the premises on Tuesday 1 November and seized the books to prevent the operation from opening.

The owners said that the gardaí did not give them notice that they would be searching the premises.

Today, the Rock Bingo owners said that following the decision from the High Court on Saturday, they were told a warrant for seizure was about to be applied for to the District Court, and that such a warrant would be sought every day until the High Court hearing.

That hearing is scheduled for 21 November.

Barber said that the company “have done nothing wrong, we have created 30 jobs, we have charity partners who will benefit from the business and we are providing a safe and secure, alcohol-free environment for Cork people to have a fun and inexpensive night out, but the local Garda authorities seem to be determined to shut down our operation”.

I felt like I had done something terrible as I watched the Gardaí come to our business and take our bingo books away on our planned opening night. In a lifetime of business in Cork this has never happened to me before.

Barber said that the company have operated totally within the law and that they have “invested huge money in modern premises that meets all the required comforts and legislations, and we have secured the charity beneficiary partners in the right manner”.

He even invited local authorities to attend the Friday night of bingo “to see firsthand that we are offering nothing except good clean fun in a safe environment”.

When asked about next steps Barber said he is making a personal plea to the local authorities to come meet with the company again, “inspect our operation and see that we are good, law abiding citizens operating a totally legitimate business”.

The 1,000-seat Rock Bingo venue is located at the old Waters Glass premises in Togher, Cork.

Fans of Rock Bingo took to its Facebook page to express their disappointment, with some calling for a petition against the closure to be set up.

Read: Bingo operators vow to stage comeback after garda raid>

Read: New bingo hall creates 30 jobs in Cork>

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