PEOPLE living on an island went to court yesterday to halt the nightmare of late-night drinking and loud music wrecking their lives.
Nine residents were joined by the Garda in opposing the renewal of a drinks licence to Ostan Arann, the only hotel on the island of Inis Mor, the largest of the three Aran Islands.
The special court sitting on Inis Mor heard that gardai had been ignored by hotel management as they repeatedly asked for the bar to be closed, while revellers arrived from other bars that had been closed, walked past them and were served up until 3am.
Gardai also had to rescue drunken individuals who had fallen on the road and over walls and deal with assaults and other incidents, all arising from after-hours activity at Ostan Arann, the court heard.
Under-age teenagers had been meeting inside and outside the hotel late at night, and a GP, teachers and neighbours all expressed grave concerns at the seriousness of the situation.
One mother living close to the hotel told how she had been taking her six-year-old son to school at 8.50am when she saw people stagger out of the pub.
Sergeant Vincent Jennings told Judge Mary Fahy he had received numerous complaints over six to seven months about after-hours drinking and loud music coming from the hotel. Three summonses for after-hours breaches had been brought against the hotel, one of which was before the court.
Sgt Jennings said he had met hotel manager Keith Madigan on a number of occasions and cautioned him about the up-keep of the hotel.
Garda Brian O'Donnell said he had called to the hotel on several occasions since last March. On March 27 at 1.52am there were 70-80 people there, with 14 more at the front door. On April 11 he called at 1am and asked Mr Madigan to close, but he refused.
Mr Madigan told him that if he didn't stay open, he would have no business. The garda told him that if he didn't close he would have no licence.
Manager Keith Madigan told the court that things had vastly improved at the hotel. He said a lot of the evidence was "grossly exaggerated" and some of it was false.
The judge intervened and told the court that Mr Madigan was coming across as "utterly unsuitable" to run a licensed premises. "This man, in colloquial terms, is really tearing it," she said. Adjourning the matter until November 2, Judge Fahy added: "There will have to be a huge, huge change of attitude here."