A tale of two pubs: county councillor fined €2,500 over illegal vodka; 40 found in second bar at 4am

TWO prominent county publicans in the same town fell foul of the law as they both ended up in court.

TWO prominent county publicans in the same town fell foul of the law as they both ended up in court.

Cllr Mike Houlihan was fined €2,500 for possession of illicit vodka at his pub in Kilmallock last year, while gardai found 40 people drinking in Flanagan’s bar at 4.05.

It followed an anonymous phone call to gardai and the fire service that a fire had broken out in Flanagan’s.

Cllr Houlihan, who has an address at Bresheen, Kilmallock appeared before the court after he was charged following a customs and excise operation last year.

State solicitor Aidan Judge, prosecuting, said a number of customs officers entered the pub at Sarsfield Street Kilmallock, on February 3, 2010 to carry out an inspection.

Kilmallock District Court court was told that 4.5 litres of illicit vodka, most probably sourced in the UK, was seized in the pub during the inspection.

“No duty had been paid on the vodka,” said Mr Judge, who agreed that the premises is generally “very well run”.

Solicitor Robin Lee, representing Cllr Houlihan, said his client had been offered the vodka by another individual some time previously and that he didn’t realise it was illicit.

“It was a small quantity,” said Mr Lee, who added that his client has not had any difficulties in relation to the running of the pub in the past.

Convicting Cllr Houlihan of the offence, Judge Mary O’Halloran imposed a fine of €5,000 which she mitigated to €2,500 because of the circumstances of the case. The defendant has two months the pay the fine.

Meanwhile, gardai found around 40 people in Flanagan’s at 4.05am following a “malicious” anonymous phone call that there was a fire at the bar.

Sheila Flanagan, 51, of Flanagan’s Bar, Sarsfield Street, Kilmallock pleaded guilty to the offence under the licensing laws and was fined €220.

Garda Annette Courtney, of Bruff Garda station, said in the early hours of Friday, December 31 she received a call alleging there was a fire in Flanagan’s Bar.

At 4.05am when she attended the scene she spoke to fire brigade personnel, who told her that there was no fire.

“I found approximately 40 people with full glasses of alcohol. The proprietor was aggressive and abusive,” said Garda Courtney, who informed the drinkers it was past closing time and proceeded to clear the bar with the assistance of Garda Claire Haugh.

Ms Flanagan’s solicitor, Robin Lee, said someone made a malicious false report of a fire in the premises.

“No one has got to the bottom of it as yet. It (the phone call) gave rise to the defendant being in court today,” said Mr Lee.

The solicitor said earlier that evening during normal opening hours a number of people congregated in Ms Flanagan’s bar to celebrate a birthday.

“They requested to remain on. Nothing had been pre-planned. She acceded to the request. She is of a hospitable nature.

“There was no music or rowdiness. The celebrations proceeded in a low key manner,” said Mr Lee.

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