Thursday 18 January 2018

Publicans slam 'pop-up pubs' being set up in time for Fleadh

A licence has been granted for a pop-up pub to trade from the old Wallis boutique on O’Connell St
A licence has been granted for a pop-up pub to trade from the old Wallis boutique on O’Connell St

Sligo's publicans have fallen out over the setting up of 'pop-up pubs' for the All Ireland Fleadh.

Sligo's publicans have fallen out over the setting up of 'pop-up pubs' for the All Ireland Fleadh.

The local vintners' association has slammed as greedy the actions of one publican who is turning a former clothes shop into a pub.

The publican who runs a premises at Markievicz Road sought an occasional licence to run another pub at the former Wallis shop at O'Connell street.

The Gardai and vintners' association strenuously opposed the move at a sitting of Sligo District Court on Thursday.

Solicitor Gerard McGovern who represented the vintners, said: "To take a clothes shop and turn it into a public house when he already has a pub is a little bit greedy."

However, Judge Kevin Kilrane said he saw no harm in allowing the Wallis premises to open.

He viewed the application as opportunistic not greedy and said publicans needed all the business they could get.

He warned though that his decision should not be taken as a free for all and that publicans could not rent warehouses and set up pubs.

The Fire Officer has put a limit of 100 people on the former shop.

Judge Kilrane said: "This won't have any material impact on the business of the other pubs in the town, which number about 60."

The application for an occasional licence and a dance licence for Wallis was made in the name of Frank Cullen who runs Cullen's.

Last week, publicans were granted an exemption to stay open until 2.30am from August 7th to 10th and from the 14th to the 17th.

Moving the application on behalf of Mr Cullen, solicitor Shane McDermott agreed with the Judge the applicant wanted two pubs instead of one.

Inspector Colm Nevin said he didn't believe the application was in the spirit of the Act.

There were also enough pubs already, 190 altogether and some 60 in the town.

He said another pub would put extra pressure on Garda resources.

Mr McGovern said Mr Cullen already operated a fairly large premises in the centre of town.

The vintners saw it as the opening of the floodgates.

Mr McGovern said O'Connell Street was served by a number of pubs already.

There was a fear that every vacant premises would be turned into a pub.

Mr McDemott asked the Judge to take into account the fact it was a special event.

He said there were three pubs in the street which wasn't sufficient for the number of people who would be in the area.

Mr McDermott said the applicant had spent a lot of time sourcing a premises.

Daniel McGarrigle General Manager of Cullen's told the court he would be managing the Wallis premises.

He had attended the Fleadhs in Cavan and Derry and got the idea from there.

He saw an opportunity with a vacant premises and there would be 8,000 people in O'Connell Street which will be closed to traffic.

There would be trained security and the premises would be compliant with fire regulations.

A plan for the layout of the premises was handed in to court.

Mr McGarrigle said the front door would operate on an 'in and out' basis and security would have clickers to ensure the numbers stayed at 100.

Judge Kilrane said the application did come with the Act whether it was in the spirit of it was questionable.

The application had been described as greedy but he wouldn't go that far but it was opportunistic.

The Fleadh was a special event for Sligo and it did qualify as a special event under the Act.

"The word on the street is that it is going to be a very busy event with a huge influx of people.

"Local publicans will do well and other businesses too and the best of luck to them.

"It is important to them and they need all the business they can get."

He said that on balance he didn't think the application was a bad thing.

"I think the Inspector is right that the application is not in the spirit of the Act but business people are entitled to be opportunistic and it's not a sin to avail of that opportunity.

"What possible harm can it do?"

He said it was a relatively small venture,

"All in all I cannot see where the harm is and I'm going to grant it," he said.

The Judge added that the premises would be closely monitored and ordered CCTV to be installed following a request from Inspector Nevin.

Sligo Champion

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