A NUMBER of off-licence and petrol station owners in the Killarney and Killorglin areas are due before the courts in the coming weeks following an undercover garda sting targeting underage liquor sales.
This was the first investigation carried out in the Killarney District under a new scheme that allows gardaí to use children between 15 and 17 as undercover agents.
Gardaí are now warning that other towns across south Kerry will also be targetted.
Up to 20 premises have been investigated to date in the Killarney Garda District, with seven alone targetted in the Killorglin area in May and a similar operation followed in Killarney town last month.
A teenager, who is not from the area, was sent in by Gardai to attempt to purchase alcohol whilst being watched by a plain clothes officer.
Killarney District Superintendent Flor Murphy this week confirmed that the raids had occurred and are set to continue over the coming months.
"Yes, we have carried out operations in Killorglin and Killarney, the minor is used with parental permission and it's part of an ongoing strategy to tackle underage drinking," he said.
"Similar operations will be mounted in other towns across south Kerry and we would appeal to off-licence, shop and garage owners, indeed the owners of all licenced premises, to ensure that their staff are properly trained in this matter," the superintendent added.
The operation follows an amendment to the Intoxicating Liquor Act which allows minors to be used in Garda investigations into the selling of drink to underage children.
If convicted, there are stiff penalties for licensees, including a potential €1,500 fine and temporary closure order.