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Friday 19 September 2014

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon vows to tackle public drunkenness and prevent sales to under-age

Ray Managh

Published 25/07/2014 | 12:36

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A sign for the new British pub group JD Weatherspoons pub, the Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock, Dublin
A sign for the new British pub group JD Weatherspoons pub, the Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock, Dublin which opened today, July 8.

A judge has heard how a UK pub group plans to tackle drunkenness and disorderly behaviour in Ireland as well as its measures to prevent the sale of alcohol to the under aged.

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Barrister Constance Cassidy, S.C., handed in a Protocol to the Circuit Civil Court when JD Wetherspoon Ireland Limited, which plans to open 30 new pubs in Ireland, was granted a Declaratory Order for an extended drinks license at the Three Tun Tavern. Blackrock, Co Dublin.

Claire Lenehan, 19, Holly Kane, 20, Charlotte Bourke, 18, Eimear Green, 21, Ciara Foster, 22, bar staff in the new British pub group JD Weatherspoons pub, the Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock, Dublin which will open on the 8th of July. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Claire Lenehan, 19, Holly Kane, 20, Charlotte Bourke, 18, Eimear Green, 21, Ciara Foster, 22, bar staff in the new British pub group JD Weatherspoons pub, the Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock. Picture credit: Damien Eagers

Ms Cassidy, who appeared with Nicola-Jane Andrews for Wetherspoons, told Judge Matthew Deery there was a very strong emphasis on food from 8a.m. to 11 p.m. which was a crucial part of the company’s business.

Judge Deery granted the company a Declaratory Order for the extended premises at Temple Road, Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, which means that should all development be completed in accordance with planning permission the newly enlarged area will automatically receive a drinks license.

Ms Cassidy told the court the premises previously operated as the Tonic Bar which was acquired by Wetherspoons in December last year.  The company had since spent €2.3 million on refurbishment alone.

Alistair Broome, regional general manager of JD Wetherspoon PLC and responsible for the operation of the company’s premises in Ireland, had prepared the Protocol in which he had outlined the company’s plans.

He said the company’s proof of age policies would be actively promoted within The Three Tun Tavern including operation of a mystery visitor programme to test the effectiveness of its under-age policy.

Mr Broome also told the court the company took numerous positive steps to ensure that, under its Prevention of Drunkenness and Disorderly Behaviour regime, facilities and promotions offered in its pubs did not encourage excessive consumption of alcohol.

All of their staff were provided with intensive induction and refresher training on its “Don’t Do Drunk” policy which was designed to ensure that alcohol was not served to anyone who appeared to be drunk.

“Our employees are trained to continually assess the state of sobriety of any customer purchasing alcoholic drinks or consuming alcohol within the premises,” the Protocol stated.

The company monitored the effectiveness of this training by reviewing the use of the “Refusal” button on the till system which had to be pressed whenever a customer was refused alcohol.

Mr Broome stated that JD Wetherspoon operates 924 pubs throughout England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Wetherspoon Ireland Limited is currently involved in a prices dispute with Diageo and for the time being will not stock any Diageo-distributed products such as draught Guinness, Budweiser, Carlsberg or Smithwicks.

Company chairman Tim Martin said Wetherspoons had baulked at paying a higher price for Guinness in Ireland than it did in the UK.

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