ONE of Ireland’s best-known publicans was forced to stop selling drink from an open-air van this Bank Holiday weekend after being told by gardai: ‘No more!’
On Friday, hordes of people could be seen drinking in a car park after buying alcohol from an open-air van selling pints of beer outside The Goat bar, in Goatstown on Dublin’s southside.
At one stage there were over 50 people in a queue, who patiently waited to be served and kept two metres apart.
But the pub’s business was thrown into disarray when they were visited by local gardai and told that they could not continue the activity for the rest of the weekend.
“We decided to set up a van and sell takeaway beer and food and see how it would go,” owner Charlie Chawke (70) said.
“It was my son’s idea to do it and I can’t really see it first hand as I’m still cocooning.”
But the ‘takeaway’ service soon ran into problems.
“A lot of people started to congregate around the back of the car park drinking,” he said.
“It’s not good enough to be perfectly honest, as we couldn’t keep an eye on a lot of them.”
Gardai told the pub’s management that they would have to adhere to Covid-19 guidelines.
“We were told by the Guards that we can’t sell alcohol for consumption within 100 metres of the pub,” conceded Charlie.
“These people were clearly drinking close to the pub and we couldn’t do anything about it. People are all frustrated and want to have a good time and meet their friends in the sun.
“Young people are young people and this is what they like doing.”
Charlie has seven grandchildren, the oldest of whom is aged 10, and also has five children, ranging in ages from 25 to 40.
He said he is concerned about the amount of open-air drinking the country has seen in the good weather, with fun-lovers flocking to parks, beaches, lakes and riversides.
“Of course I’m worried about many of these people getting together and being close to one another,” he said.
“But you can’t lock them up and throw away the key. We’ve had three months of lockdown now and people want to get out into the sun and enjoy themselves.
“I don’t see any harm in people meeting their friends and getting together as long as they adhere to social-distancing rules.”
He hopes to get his open-air van back up and running in August, when pubs are allowed to reopen in phase five of the lockdown relaxation.
“Pubs should adhere to what the Department of Health and the Guards are telling them to do,” he said.
“I have a very good relationship with the Guards and naturally take their instructions on how to operate.”
Charlie lost a leg in an horrific shooting in 2003, when two armed raiders shot him during a robbery at his pub in Goatstown.
“I am finding it difficult cocooning and especially during this hot weather,” he told us. “My leg still gives me trouble from time to time but I’m happy enough.”
He is fulsome in his praise of other publicans who are providing home-delivery services.
“You have to give it a try and it’s something we may look at. It’s a nice service to do for customers and we have a lot of loyal ones who might be interested.”
Cllr Daniel Dunne, who represents the Green Party in nearby Churchtown, stressed that The Goat should not have been selling beer in that manner.
“A pub should not be selling alcohol for consumption on their premises at the moment, so if that is happening it’s not ok,” he points out.
“There is also a problem with the way The Goat have placed their temporary building, it is creating safety issues at an already dangerous junction.”
Cllr Dunne said there is a problem with open-air drinking in general and young and people congregating.
“I have seen a lot of young people, particularly teenagers, hanging around together and they’re not adhering to the two metre social-distancing rule,” he said.
“I would be concerned that people are becoming more relaxed in their attitude to the lockdown and it may be becoming a bit of a problem,” he added
Tens of thousands of people flocked to open-air areas across the country yesterday, as Ireland again basked in warm weather.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar came under fire from some quarters when pictures emerged of him last Sunday in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.
The Taoiseach is currently residing with his partner Matt in a cottage in the State-owned Farmleigh estate in the park, during the lockdown.
The Fine Gael leader joked he might stick to his private garden in future.
“I don’t want to give my press officer a heart attack or anything,” he chuckled.
He said people can enjoy the good weather but within rules.