Operator Pat Foley of Foley’s Hotel, Henry Street, was before Kenmare District Court for three breaches of COVID-19 hospitality regulations in place to prevent the spread of the virus under the Health Act.
In evidence, Sgt Miriam Mulhall Nolan told the court that gardaí entered the premises at 11.50pm – on December 12, 2020 – to check compliance and found 100 people on the premises: “They were openly consuming alcohol, standing and at the tables.
"They were standing at the bar. There was no food being served and no social distancing.”
She said the staff were also not wearing PPE, and the COVID register was not up to date; the last entry had been made four hours earlier.
She said gardaí spoke to Mr Foley, who commented that the crowd had fallen from the sky.
Judge David Water said that Mr Foley was ‘being smart’.
Mr Foley did not answer gardaí when asked why he was serving them. Mr Foley’s solicitor, Tommy Granville, said that Mr Foley had made the comment during a ‘stressful’ situation.
He said Mr Foley operates a well-run establishment in the town of Kenmare, to which Judge Waters said it was “not well run on the night”.
“It is this type of complete disregard that calls into question his suitability to hold a licence,” added Judge Waters.
He said that if there was an objection to Mr Foley’s licence, it would have to be considered.
Mr Granville said his client “lost control on the night”.
Judge Water warned Mr Granville to be careful what he said, adding that Mr Foley did not “lose control of his staff”, who were not wearing PPE gear.
Mr Granville said that the bar was immediately cleared and that the COVID register of customers had been maintained up to 8pm.
Judge Waters convicted and fined Mr Foley €750 for failing to ensure that people were not permitted to enter the bar after 11.30pm. The other two breaches of failing to maintain a register and failing to serve food were taken into consideration.