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Dublin-based hospitality group sues Government over Covid-19 restrictions on bars and restaurants

Press Up Group operates some of the capital’s best-known bars and restaurants.

The Workman's Club in Dublin (file photo)
The Workman's Club in Dublin (file photo)
Image: Google Street View

THE DUBLIN-BASED hospitality company Press Up Group, which operates some of the capital’s best-known bars and restaurants, has issued legal proceedings against the Government.

Papers filed in the High Court yesterday show that the company and several others connected to it have launched a case against the State, the Minister for Health, the Minister for Finance and the Attorney General.

Press Up, which is controlled by businessman Paddy McKillen Jr and operates 55 premises across the country, has taken the case over the extension of Covid-19 restrictions on bars and restaurants until the end of October.

An affidavit submitted to the court says the company operates 37 restaurants, 11 bars, five hotels and two cinemas valued at more than €10 million, and says it is seeking a hearing of its case in the Commercial Court.

The affidavit, sworn by company director Matthew Ryan, alleges that the Covid-19 regulations introduced by the Government interfere with the Press Up’s constitutional property rights.

Under Level 3 restrictions, so-called ‘wet pubs’ have been closed in Dublin since last month, while pubs and restaurants that serve food can only do so outdoors.

The public health measures were introduced in the capital last month, and were extended until 27 October earlier this week.

According to the affidavit, Press Up says it could lose more than more than €20m if the measures continue to be implemented.

It also claims to have reduced its workforce from 1,719 to 159 following the initial lockdown in March, but adds that it was able to increase employee numbers to 1,437 after re-purposing and re-opening some of its venues for takeaway and deliveries since then. 

The company notes that it has complied with Covid-19 restrictions to date, has introduced safeguards to prevent the spread of the virus on its premises, and has not received any notice from the HSE about any outbreaks in businesses it operates.

It also alleges that the State has failed to make any adequate provisions to compensate or indemnify the company for the loss and interference with its property rights, in circumstances where closing its business is required for the common good.  

Press Up Group operates several restaurants and bars in Dublin, including The Workman’s Club, Sophie’s and Vintage Cocktail Club, and several companies linked to the firm are co-plaintiffs in the case against the government.

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These include the owners of the The Workman’s Club, the venues Everleigh Garden and The Bottle Boy, as well as companies in charge of the restaurants Wowburger, Elephant and Castle, Wagamama and Captain Americas in Blanchardstown and Cork.

The operators of the private members club Residence, the café Union, the Stella Cinema in Rathmines, the Clarence Hotel, the Devlin Hotel, the Mayson Hotel, and Glasson Golf and Country Club in Westmeath are also co-plaintiffs.

A spokesperson for Press Up Group declined to comment on the case.

TheJournal.ie has contacted spokespersons for the Minister for Health and the Minister for Finance for comment.

Comments have been closed as legal proceedings are active.

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