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Dublin District Court

Berlin D2 bar loses licence after 'boozy brunch' deemed 'neglectful and irresponsible' by judge

A video clip was of the event on 14 August last prompted outrage.

A JUDGE HAS held that there was “no alternative” but to refuse to grant the Berlin D2 bar the renewal of its operating licences due to a “boozy brunch” that went viral on social media.

Footage of punters and staff flouting Covid-19 regulations guidelines went viral online after the event on 14 August last.

The event, advertised as a “Very Boozy Baked Brunch With Your Buds”, took place in the popular bar restaurant on Dame Lane in Dublin city-centre.

One masked staff member danced on the bar as he poured shots into dancing customers’ mouths during the controversial bar brunch event which ran from 1pm to 4pm. It had a DJ and was attended by 46 guests.

Reacting to the backlash, former manager, businessman Jay Bourke, had described it as “30 seconds of madness” when he commented to the media.

The bar shut for a week and staff underwent a day of retraining. An apology was later put on the front window saying “sorry, we messed up”.

Garda Inspector John Finucane, based at Pearse St station, formally lodged an objection to the renewal of bar’s various annual licences. The venue, which employed 30 staff and is owned by Trillium Leisure Ltd, opposed the objection.

Delivering her ruling at Dublin District Court today, Judge Marie Quirke ruled that it was necessary to refuse the renewal of the bar’s restaurant, theatre, dance, public music and singing licences.

Judge Quirke gave a scathing criticism of the running of the venue.

She held that the event was clearly in breach of public health guidelines necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

She outlined a series of issues about how the bar was run during and after the event:

  • Management and systems in place were not fit for purpose.
  • The bar admitted the breaches.
  • There was no system to prevent intermingling.
  • Masks were not worn uniformly by staff.
  • Social distancing was not in place.
  • Drinks were served from the counter and not at tables.

“This court finds the conduct neglectful, irresponsible, disorderly, indifferent to the guidelines and constituted mismanagement of the venue,” she said.

She noted that two directors did not make themselves available to gardai, however, a shareholder, Jay Bourke, and a manager did meet with gardai and provided their CCTV footage. There was full co-operation, she remarked.

Afterwards the venue expressed remorse in an apology put on the front window saying “sorry, we messed up”. There was a stated commitment to redress the breaches that had occurred.

However, two undercover customs officers went to check compliance at the venue on 10 September last.

At first, they found the premises was following regulations, but when their 105 minute limit had been reached a waitress and a manager on their own initiative proposed that if they so desired they could remain for a further 105 minutes. A new till receipt could be used.

This evidence was not contradicted, Judge Quirke noted.

“In fact, I find the applicant, in full knowledge, had the intention to breach the guidelines and mislead authorities, and had a scheme in place for that intention. This was despite the outcry over the 15 August event,” she said.

This, she said, aggravated and compounded the breaches.

The bar’s statement of remorse was not born out by its actions and in fact disproved commitment for proper management and orderly compliance. She said that it was necessary to refuse the application to renew the bar’s licences and there was no alternative available.

The ruling follows two days of evidence from witnesses and viewing of CCTV footage during the hearing last month.

The venue’s barrister Dorothy Collins (instructed by solicitor Ursula Courtney), told Judge Quirke that Mr Bourke ceased involvement in running the bar.

It was conceded that three public health guidelines were breached, however, the bar’s lawyers pointed out that no law was broken. Directors and management also apologised in court.

Tony McGillicuddy BL, for An Garda Siochana, submitted that the restaurant was more concerned about the social media reaction than the public health risks or the possibility the event was a potential covid-19 superspreader.