CONCERNS have been expressed that several well-known pubs and nightclubs in Limerick city centre may be operating without a licence to sell alcohol.
The revelation emerged just before Christmas as gardai formally objected to a number of applications for special exemptions over the festive period.
Special exemptions, which are routinly granted by the courts, allow licenced premises to serve alcohol outside of normal licencing hours - usually until 2am.
Pubs and clubs generally seek such licences, at weekends and to coincide with the hosting of major cultural or sporting events in the city.
The practice in Limerick is that special exemptions are sought around a fortnight before the required date.
At Limerick Court, Insp Seamus Nolan, Henry Street, objected to six separate applications made by a number of different pubs and clubs saying it “did not appear” that the premises had a current licence.
The provisions of the Intoxicating Liquor Act do not allow for special exemptions to be issued to unlicenced premises.
When asked by Judge Eugene O’Kelly if the applicants been informed of the garda objection, Insp Nolan said just one had been notified in advance.
The judge noted that between them the applicants had paid more than €20,000 in stamp duty and he said, in the circumstances, it would be unfair on those not notified to refuse the applicatons.
“A very substantial amount of money has been paid to the state, in the form of excise duty, to bring these applications,” he said adding that the monies would not be refunded if he refused to grant the applications.
The judge added that it “would be very unfair given the time of the year” and he noted the likehood that revellers would be affected as “Christmas parties would have to be cancelled”.
The judge said he was shocked that so many of the applicants appear not to have a current licence and he added that the court “could not turn a blind eye,” to the practice if this is the case.
The judge said the applicants have now been put on notice that gardai will be objecting to future applications for special exemptions if their affairs or not in order.