Garda chief warns ‘irresponsible’ publicans in County Limerick town

Gerard Fitzgibbon

Reporter:

Gerard Fitzgibbon

THE MOST senior garda in Newcastle West has warned that if drinking and anti-social behaviour in the town gets any more out of control he will seek an immediate blanket ban on late opening in all pubs, nightclubs and disco bars.

THE MOST senior garda in Newcastle West has warned that if drinking and anti-social behaviour in the town gets any more out of control he will seek an immediate blanket ban on late opening in all pubs, nightclubs and disco bars.

Supt Dan Flavin has issued a stern rebuke to some local licensed premises which he said are involved in “irresponsible trading”, such as selling drinks at bargain prices and serving alcohol to young people who are already drunk.

He said that in recent weeks gardai have been forced to step up efforts to maintain law and order in the town at weekends, as “there is an element coming into town for the cheap alcohol” and causing serious problems.

Among the steps gardai have been taking are video taping unruly crowds, searching people on the street for drugs, and ordering late bars to improve their security.

Supt Flavin has now warned that if the situation does not improve, gardai will begin objecting to all applications at the local court for late weekend opening hours at pubs and nightclubs.

“What we’re doing now is monitoring as it goes along. If things worsen in the future, I’ll have to take appropriate action and bring our objections to the courts. There’s irresponsible trading. When traders sell alcohol at €2 per drink, you’re getting young people buying four shots, putting them into one pint glass and pouring an energy drink down on top of it.”

Last weekend, he said that while the number of people out drinking in Newcastle West was lower than normal, there was a simultaneous rise in the number of assaults which took place.

Supt Flavin stressed that the recent ‘Knights of WestFest’ festival, which attracted thousands of people to the town, “went very well” and was “an example of how to be responsible”.

However he said that WestFest aside, gardai have become increasingly concerned with the level of drunkenness in the town at weekends.

Supt Flavin said that problems began to escalate earlier this summer when a new nightclub opened on South Quay, and began selling drinks at €2 each. While the sale of discount drinks in ‘happy hour’ time-limited promotions is illegal, selling drinks at a blanket low cost is not.

Following this, gardai noticed an increase in public order incidents on the main N21 at South Quay, including an infamous incident in which young women entered the River Arra nearby and began swimming partially-clothed, which was filmed and uploaded to YouTube.

Gardai then began seeking strict conditions on late exemptions in court, however Supt Flavin said that discount drink-selling in certain premises continued.

While there was no specific increase in public disorder, he said this was because people were “too intoxicated to cause trouble”.

On August 10, gardai began a new strategy of video taping members of the public leaving licensed premises across the town, in a bid to identify where and how frequently the worst incidents of public drunkenness were taking place.

Gardai have begun frequent searches to make sure that pubs are closing on time and are not serving people who are already intoxicated, while the Fire Service have also begun joint searches with gardai to check that pubs are not overcrowded and in breach of fire safety.

Gardai have also been working with Limerick County Council to ensure that fast food restaurants are closing on time, in line with the their planning permission.

The Garda Traffic Corps, meanwhile, are clamping down on buses and taxis bringing people in and out of Newcastle West to ensure that vehicles are not being overloaded.

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