'Bar-extension' fines could put hotel out of business
A FOUR-star hotel could go out of business if it has to pay fines after it charged customers for non-existent bar extensions, its managing director said last night.
Couples who held wedding receptions at Roganstown Hotel & Country Club in Dublin discovered that despite being charged €550 for their receptions, the hotel did not apply to the District Court for special exemption orders under the Intoxicating Liquor Act.
The District Court charges €310 for exemption orders plus €110 in stamp duty. Roganstown said the €550 it charged wedding couples also included solicitors' fees.
Last night, the hotel's managing director Ian McGuinness said up to 40 exemptions over a two-year period were involved and they were in negotiations with the gardai to see whether the licence fees could be paid retrospectively.
The Intoxicating Liquor Act provides for fines of €3,000 to €5,000 for each breach of the law.
"I hope to make contributions retrospectively to cover it but I don't know if that can be done," said Mr McGuinness.
"I don't know about fines but if that's the case we are out of business, with 70 people on the dole."
Mr McGuinness said that the hotel had assumed all the exemptions at issue had been applied for in the District Court. That had been the job of their general manager, former Dublin Lord Mayor Royston Brady, who left his post earlier this year.
"I have to take responsibility but he was the manager and he was supposed to be looking after it," he added.
However, weekend newspaper reports said Mr Brady rejected this, saying he never dealt with exemptions in his two years as general manager.
As soon as the non-existent exemption orders were discovered, the hotel said it handed over the details to the gardai at Swords. The hotel then emailed the wedding couples concerned, explaining it intended making a formal offer retrospectively to pay court fees and stamp duty.
It added that if there was no requirement to pay the fees in retrospect, a refund would be issued to all affected parties.