Complaints of loud music and anti-social behaviour are made in court
A district court judge has advised a Sligo publican that he will need to have a “change of attitude” as she adjourned his application for a renewal of his annual licence, that was contested by four objectors, at Sligo District Court.
Judge Sandra Murphy said that Peter Kilgallen of Kilgallens public house, The Mall, had every right to earn a livelihood, but there were underlying problems that were “not being taken seriously”.
The judge said the problems were having a serious toll on some people on the Mall.
The judge said it was a real problem that “has now come to a head”.
“This has to be addressed and the attitude has to change,” she stated.
Judge Murphy asked Dermot McDermott of McDermott Creed and Martyn, Solicitors, to advise his client about the court’s concerns.
The case was adjourned to yesterday’s Civil Court to hear evidence from a fifth objector.
Before they gave evidence, the objectors stated they were only dealing with the issues of the renewal of the licence and a different matter concerning alleged noise coming from the premises was a separate matter.
Mr McDermott said his client had dealt with it already as he had sought a report from a sound expert.
Speaking from the body of the court, one of the objectors, John Burrows claimed that Mr Kilgallen had no music or dance licence and was “operating illegally”.
Mr Burrows added that he had listened to other publicans getting a licence for music and dancing in the court earlier, and yet Mr Kilgallen could operate without any licence.
“We can’t object because he does not have a dance licence.
“It shows that he is not of fit character to hold a liquor licence.”
In response, Mr Kilgallen said he totally refuted the allegations that he was not fit to run his premises.
“That is a stain on my character and person, and it is outrageous to come up with those claims,” he said.
In evidence, another objector Rory Concannon told the court that the pub was being run in a disorderly manner with events being held there without a licence.
There was no consideration for the needs of people living close by.
He added that there were nuisance, safety and public order issues that had been reported to the gardai.
The pub was operating as a dance venue but had no licence for either dancing or music.
Mr Concannon said there was evidence on Instagram about promotions for dance and rave music in the premises.
There were outside and inside bars as well.
A video of the promo for dance music in Kilgallens was played for the court.
Mr Concannon said he wanted to stress that the publican was not of fit character to run the premises and the noise issue was a different matter.
He added that the pub owner showed a flagrant disregard for neighbours, the community and the health and well being of people in the area.
“He has made no attempt to rectify matters”, the witness alleged.
Mr McDermott pointed out that the pub had been on the Mall for 100 years.
The witness replied that his house had been on the Mall since 1822. He had been living on the Mall for the past ten years, the court heard.
He said the last time he was in the pub was around a year ago when he served an Environmental Protection Notice on the owner.
Mr McDermott asked the witness if there was a dance floor in the premises.
The witness said he could not answer that.
Mr McDermott said his client would say there was no dance floor.
The witness said that people may not be aware that there is no dance floor but that does not stop them dancing.
The solicitor said there was no evidence of live gigs in the premises.
Mr Concannon said he could show the court video evidence of live dancing.
When Mr McDermott asked the witness to define a live gig, the latter said the music did not have to be created live as it could be electronically produced.
Mr McDermott asked the witness if the publican needed a licence for a customer to to start singing.
“He does not have one”, the witness replied.
Mr McDermott said there was nobody hired to sing in the pub.
Mr McDermott asked the witness if he knew what time the pub closed at?
The witness replied: “I have no idea.”
“You are coming in here objecting to this man’s licence, and you have no idea what time his pub closes at?” asked Mr McDermott.
The witness said he did not hang around the pub and that it would be too dangerous with the crowds milling around.
The witness said it was about anti-social behaviour.
Mr McDermott asked what evidence was there, that anti- social behaviour was taking place.
When the solicitor asked the witness to define anti-social behaviour he said it was anything that impinges on and causes distress to other people in the area.
The solicitor said there was no evidence of anti-social behaviour.
Mr Burrows told the court that his complaints were broadly similar to those of the previous witness.
This witness said he lived at No 7 The Mall three to four doors from the pub with his wife and two children who were ten and seven.
He said the house was built in 1800 and his children were the fourth generation to grow up in it.
The witness said the situation was a serious impact on the family’s personal lives.
His children went to bed between 7 and 8pm when they were back at school so having loud music playing was an impediment to their sleep.
He added that it was difficult to relax with that level of interruption.
When Mr McDermott asked him for the basis of his objection, he said that the pub owner was acting outside the remit of his licence by having musical events and stress was caused as result of this.
He added that they should not be taking place outside of a normal seven-day licence.
The witness said he had been living on the Mall since 2005.
The witness added that he took no pleasure in questioning the publican’s character as he knew him, over his running of events outside of the current licence that is currently held.
He added that he had expressed his views over the years, and he was left with no choice.
Mr McDermott asked the witness if these events had been going on for 40 years.
The witness said they were only in a position to judge what happened in the past 12 months.
Mr McDermott added that the licenced premises had been there before the objecting residents.
When asked what was the nuisance, witness said it was the holding of these events which were a marked difference from other licenced premises in the area and the advertising of dance music was a nuisance and it had been going on for years.
He added that he had a video of 60-70 people milling around on the street, but he had not got a chance to show it.
The witness said people were coming and going,urinating on front steps and had beer bottles shoved through his letter box.
Mr McDermott asked the witness if he ever made a complaint to the gardai about the premises staying open late.
The witness said he made a complaint about the operation of the pub and about activity on the Mall.
The witness also claimed there was drug use and fighting in an alleyway. The premises was operating in a disorderly manner and gardai were monitoring the situation.
Grainne Roche told the court she had similar complaints
She said the noise levels coming from the pub were causing serious stress and she had small children and there was lack of sleep at night due to the noise.
There were also concerns about the street and things that were happening on it.
She added that she had witnessed drug taking on the street and it was a very threatening atmosphere on the street at night.
Aileen Concannon said she had similar objections.
She said the bar was holding rave style events with ensuing anti-social behaviour that had a detrimental effect on herself and her family.
One of these events started at 2 o’clock in the day and was very distressing for her 13-year-old son who could no longer sleep at the front of the house and had to move to a back room.
The witness added that it was causing great personal distress to her and her family-her husband Rory and her 13-year-old son.
She added: “This is the last place we want to be, but we want to be able to live peacefully in our homes.”
Peter Kilgallen said the premises did not use night club speakers any more.mHe added that he was the fifth generation to be in the pub and had been there since the 1960s.
Mr Kilgallen said they had a large custom from students and went for that market as it was close by. He said he had security on the premises at all times.
Mr Kilgallen said the gardai had never been called to any incident in his pub in the past 12 months.
The pub closed at 11 or 11.30pm depending on the nights and half an hour was allocated for drinking time.
When asked if there was dancing going on, he said, no.
He said there was music and so people stand up and sing and the pub had DJ’s. He rejected any suggestion that there were still night club speakers in the pub.
When asked if he was offering a Rave? he said:
“We have techno music, some would say its rave and some would say it is not.
He added that it would be well over 12 months since there was such an event in the pub.
Mr Kilgallen denied that there were safety and public order issues in connection with the running of his pub.
“I run my pub in an orderly fashion and the Mall is a conduit for students and they are coming from a lot of places, so what happens on the street cannot be pinned on me and me alone.”
He added that nobody was allowed to bring in or out alcohol.
Mr Kilgallen said he had four nights a week for students who were coming back this week and it will be one a night a week next week.
He said all activities ceased at 11 pm.He added that he never had any objections to the holding of a licence before nor had his forbearers.
“This is my only livelihood,” he said.
He said he had tried to engage with the objectors.
The witness said he had sent a text to John Burrows saying he might have a solution-but the latter declined his offer, the court heard.
He said that other efforts he had made with others were rebutted.
“I totally refute the allegations that I am not fit to run my premises.That is a stain on my character and person, and it is outrageous to come up with those claims.”
He denied that there was a dance floor at the back of his premises.
Under questioning from Mr Concannon, the witness said that security men ensured that nobody could go in or out of the pub with drink and they were not given plastic cups or bottles.
He said he was on the premises on average six out of seven days. The witness said he was not operating a dance venue.
When asked if he thought a rave was a dance, the witness said”no”.
In response to another question he said he did not believe it was illegal to have happy hours and drinks promotions.
He admitted that he did not have a dance or music licence.
When asked why he was advertising dance and music on his Instagram site he said there was no dances in his pub.
Mr Concannon asked if people danced when DJ’s played music, Mr Kilgallenn replied that they stand up and jump up and down.
Mr Kilgallen said they stand up and jump on the spot, but they don’t dance.
“In my opinion it is not dancing.”
The court heard that there was a music event in Kilgallen’s in August last year that went from 12 to closing time.
Mr Kilgallen said they were not held this August and there were no students last August.
Evidence was due to be heard from a fifth objector Ashling Herity, who was not present in court, but the case was adjourned to allow her to give the evidence.