A west Clare publican who told a garda to “f**k off” after being questioned over his pub being packed full of revellers after 3am has been slammed by a judge.
The sleepy west Clare village of Kilmihil has a population of 434 and 23 of them were packed into Jerry Mahon’s Fiddle Head pub on the village’s Church Street at 3.05am on July 7th last when Garda Paul Madden came knocking 'after hours'.
Closing time on the Saturday night was 12.30am but Garda Madden has told Kilrush District Court that he saw drinkers “with full pints of lager and stout” when he entered the pub at 3.05am.
Garda Madden told the court: “I found Jerry Mahon to be in an intoxicated state. I asked him to see at the cash register the last sale of intoxicating liquor and he said that he would get it for me in a while.”
Garda Madden said that he then asked Mr Mahon “to see the liquor licence for the premises and he told me to f**k off”. His wife was also on the premises and she showed me the liquor licence and it was in order.”
Garda Madden said that Mr Mahon also said to him on the night "will ye be going next week to Miltown Malbay?" and Garda Madden said that this was in reference to the upcoming Willie Clancy Summer School week.
Garda Madden said that he counted 23 people inside the pub at the time.
He said that Mr Mahon had a previous conviction for keeping his bar open during ‘after hours’ and was fined €50 in court on January 28th 2017.
In the case, Judge Patrick Durcan convicted Mr Mahon of keeping his pub open for the sale of alcohol between 12.30am and 10.30am and imposed a fine of €500.
In addition, Judge Durcan fined Mr Mahon €750 for using foul and abusive language towards Garda Madden contrary to Section 6 of the Public Order Act.
Garda Madden said that he was speaking to Mr Mahon before getting into the witness box by phone and Mr Mahon told him that he couldn’t make it to court as he was caught doing a job.
In response, Judge Durcan said: “Caught doing a job? He should have been here because this is the job he should have been doing.”
In fining Mr Mahon a total of €1,250, Judge Durcan said: “Any licensed publican who treats Gardai in the manner that Garda Paul Madden was treated on the 7th of July deserves nothing other than contempt from the court.
Judge Durcan said: “I find it appalling that somebody in the privileged position to hold a licence shows the level of contempt to Garda Madden and for this court that he has.”
The judge stated that rural publicans are under a lot of pressure for a variety of reasons and their business is a difficult one and with rights come responsibilities.
He stated that the court is very conscious that publicans provide a tremendous service to the country and that the pub is a very important centre where people can gather in times of celebration and crisis.