Gardaí in the shebeen
Gardaí in the Laois Offaly Kildare Divsion have uncovered the second suspected illegal shebeen in the space of a month but the latest one operating near Athy has been brazenly 'trading' at the under Covid-19 Level 5 lockdown restrictions.
Gardaí said an investigation began after officers in Athy became aware through social media that this premises was operating contrary to the Liquor Licensing Regulations and that members of the public were congregating there in contravention of the Health Act 1947.
"At approximately 8pm on Friday, 23rd October, 2020, Gardaí conducted a search under warrant of the suspected Shebeen premises and located a fully operational bar in a repurposed state.
"The premises was fitted with a bar, stools, tables, chairs, 70 inch flat screen television, and a full size pool table.
"There were several beer taps on the bar, along with an under bar cooler and kegs. There was also a smoking area, store room and toilet on the premises.
"During the course of this search, Gardaí seized five kegs of beer, a significant amount of spirits and bottled beers, and various bar equipment (taps, gas and coolers).
"A full investigation is now underway into this matter and files will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
"An Garda Síochána would appeal to anyone with information about the operation of illegal Shebeen’s to contact their local Garda Station.
"The COVID-19 Pandemic remains a public health crisis and An Garda Síochána continues to appeal to all citizens to comply with Public Health Guidelines and Regulations in order to continue to save lives," said the statement.
Laois Gardaí raided a similar operation near Mountrath in recent weeks. Sky sports, pool tables, kegs taps, spirit dispensers were discovered on October 9.
However, outdated legislation means that the penalty for running a shebeen is small.
The Laois operation was one of three carried out in Leinster carried out over the same weekend under Operation Navigation. Raids were also carried out in Meath and Westmeath from October 9-12.
At the time, Deputy Commissioner Policing and Security John Twomey spoke about the investigations which were launched following a number of reports from the public.
"The vast majority of licensed premises are complying with the public health guidelines and regulations.
"The operation of any unlicensed premises puts at risk individuals and communities. This is not acceptable and under Operation Navigation An Garda Síochána will continue to take appropriate action. I would also like to thank members of the public who brought some of these matters to our attention," he said.
Under Level 5 restrictions bars, cafes, restaurants and wet pubs may provide take-away and delivery services only. Wet pubs in *hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs may remain open, but only to support provision of essential services.