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Dublin's speakeasy pubs shut as new garda powers come into effect

A number of pubs had been disregarding health advice.

Image: Sam Boal

A NUMBER OF pubs across the country that were observed flouting regulations regarding Covid-19 and social distancing have shut their doors since gardaí were given powers of arrest for those not complying with official health guidelines. 

Gardaí have been carrying out hundreds of inspections of licensed premises and found that the vast majority have been complying with the government’s recommendation made in mid-March that they stay closed until further notice. 

However, a number of rogue pubs were found to be ignoring the guidelines. 

Images seen by TheJournal.ie show people in several pubs in Dublin and Cork. In one case, a 4oth birthday party was taking place in a well-known pub in Cork showing a group of people sitting together dressed in party hats, drinking in the lounge.

A number of pubs in Dublin 7 and 11, which had openly disregarded public health officials’ guidelines have also shut down entirely in the last week. 

The new powers afforded to gardaí mean that they can detain anyone who is not complying with Covid-19 guidelines.

As part of the act signed by Simon Harris last week, it specifies that “an applicable person shall not leave his or her place of residence without reasonable excuse”. 

A reasonable excuse includes grocery shopping, working in an essential service, seeking medical attention, exercising within 2km of your home etc.

This means that the publican could technically open his or her doors, but anyone found to be drinking at the premises would in contravention of the law as the person has left their home without “a reasonable excuse”.

Earlier this month, gardaí were effectively powerless to shut down a pub and order the patrons to leave. 

According to gardaí, one of the strongest censures they could place on a pub owner is that the rule-breaking “will be remembered when their licence is up for renewal”. This is still the case and the publicans who opened during this crisis may find it difficult to continue trading when their licence comes up for renewal.

It also emerged this week that gardaí used the new Covid-19 laws to arrest seven people who were not complying with garda orders.

Those arrested could face a fine of €2,500 or a jail sentence.

On 8 April, gardaí launched Operation Fanacht, which was to help ensure that members of the public complied with the guidelines set down by the HSE. 

Gardaí conducted 150 permanent checkpoints on major routes, over 500 shorter and mobile checkpoints, as well as a large number of high visibility patrols at tourist locations, natural beauty spots, and parks and beaches.

Gardaí will continue to follow up on any information they receive about a public house being open during this time. 

A garda spokesman said: “An Garda Síochána has carried out and continues to visit licensed premises on a daily basis as part of An Garda Síochána overall ongoing community engagement activity to remind persons/ businesses of their social responsibility to implementing the guidelines issued by the Government and HSE in order to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on our community as a whole.

“Regulations to implement public health guidelines are a matter for the Department of Health.

“An Garda Síochána can report any business found in breach of public health measures to the Health Service Executive.

“An Garda Síochána can consider any licensed premises non-compliance with Government request during Annual Licensing applications to the District Court in 2020.”

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