There is no problem with 'shebeens' in Laois, the Laois Offaly Garda Chief Superintendent has said.
"We don't have any evidence of shebeens in the county," Chief Supt John Scanlon said at the Joint Policing Meeting held last Monday September 21 in Portlaoise.
Minister of State Sean Fleming had asked if the illegal pubs were a problem in Laois, during the Covid-19 restrictions forcing licenced pubs not serving food to stay closed up to last Monday September 21.
"Pubs can start earning a livelihood again now but barns and sheds are being used as shebeens, for people buying and selling and drinking. I hope that whatever chance publicans have operating legitimately, that these are not allowed to continue. There is no Covid-19 control in those areas," he said.
"We had a number of reports since March of pubs opening where they shouldn't have been. There were parties where we took action on each, but we are not in a position to say it was a type of shebeen," said Superintendent Anthony Petit.
"We are all glad to see pubs reopening, and we will be doing inspections to support the publicans," he said.
He said that Operation Navigation during tighter Covid restrictions involved calling to pubs to inspect them, day or night to ensure they were complying with restrictions.
"We will still be doing the checks, to ensure social distancing and table service, so we don't have crowds huddled at bars, and there is wearing of masks. The softly softly approach will continue, engaging with publicans and customers. We are not cracking down. Most of the licenced premises are glad to see us, so they can say to their customers 'you need to sit down because we are being visited by the guards'.