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money wasted Canal boat restaurant owner says he is 'utterly broken' after being ordered to shut take-away service

Owner must watch pop-up food stalls set up outside his restaurant every weekend - but he is not allowed to even sell a single cup of coffee

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Shiful Islam, owner of La Peniche restaurant on the Grand Canal, Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren

Shiful Islam, owner of La Peniche restaurant on the Grand Canal, Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren

Shiful Islam, owner of La Peniche restaurant on the Grand Canal, Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren

THE owner of a boat restaurant on the Grand Canal has said he is "utterly broken" after being ordered to stop doing takeaway service less than three hours after opening.

La Peniche in Dublin has been operating for 22 years and recently decided to do takeaway coffee to generate some income.

In normal times, diners can enjoy a meal while sailing down the canal - but this came to a halt due to lockdown restrictions.

Owner Shiful Islam spent €5,000 to prepare his business for takeaway service.

"I didn't even get the chance to sell one coffee," Mr Shiful said.

Gardaí entered the boat a week ago to carry out an inspection on foot of a request from State agency Waterways Ireland - which is claiming La Peniche is carrying out unlicensed trading as it does not have planning permission.

The Government changed the law to allow restaurants to operate as takeaways without planning permission during the pandemic. Dublin City Council confirmed restaurants are still exempt.

However, Waterways Ireland said it "believes stationary restaurant or take-away business trading from a boat at a fixed location would require planning permission from Dublin City Council".

It said: "There is a significant difference between a cruising passenger boat providing meals to a limited number of passengers in the course of cruises along the Grand Canal or Royal Canal, and a stationary boat moored at a specific location on the Grand Canal or Royal Canal for the purpose of selling takeaway food to members of the public."

Mr Shiful said it is difficult for him to watch food stalls set up outside his restaurant every week when he is not allowed to trade.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland chief executive Adrian Cummins has described the Waterways Ireland decision as "a joke" and said the agency is "out of touch with reality".

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"We're definitely not all in this together," he said. "The same rules should be applied to all restaurants, whether you're on a river or land."

Waterways Ireland added while it "empathises with commercial traders during this difficult period" it is unable to support commercial activity in breach of legislation dealing with canals.

"Waterways Ireland are working with An Garda Síochána to mitigate against the pressure created by the large numbers of people congregating along the banks of the Circular Line along the Grand Canal during this period of restriction.

"This is leading to increases in anti-social behaviour, littering and impacting on the physical integrity of the banks.

"And it is placing demands on the gardaí, particularly at weekends."

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