Gardai use old law to seize up to €200,000 in stock from nightclub
GARDAI invoked an ancient and rarely-used statute to seize the entire stock of a nightclub that was allegedly operating without a current liquor licence.
Patrons arriving at the Golden Grill in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, on Saturday night looked on in shock as gardai loaded hundreds of thousands of euro worth of stock from the premises into vans and drove it away.
The raid was carried out on foot of a warrant obtained under Section 24 of the 1874 Licensing Act(Ireland) which empowers gardai to seize liquor which they believe is being sold without licence.
The penalty for a first time offence under the statute, which legal experts say is rarely invoked, is a £4 fine.
Up to 15 gardai descended on the premises on the Port Road in Letterkenny at around 9pm on Saturday night and commenced the operation which took several hours to complete.
Between €150,000 and €200,000 of stock was impounded in the raid.
It is expected that it will remain closed until the matter, which is due to come before Letterkenny Circuit Court on Tuesday, is resolved.
There was no garda available for comment about the operation last night.
Gardai waged war on nightclubs in Letterkenny and Donegal last month a when they objected to the 2.30am exemption for the month of March and sought a 1.30am closing time instead.
During the court hearing, Letterkenny District Superintendent Vincent O'Brien showed a video of street mayhem on Letterkenny's Port Road which he said was typical of what gardai were dealing with every weekend.
A compromise was finally reached when Judge John O'Hagan proposed a 2am closing time for the month which was agreed by most nightclub proprietors.
A legal source told the Irish Independent last night that gardai across the country were clamping down on expired licences in respect of nightclubs and public houses but that such raids as happened in Letterkenny at the weekend were "extremely rare".