District Court Judge Mary Fahy received a round of applause last week when she refused to renew and transfer the annual drinks licence to the owner of the Lantern Bar in Ballybane, following stringent objections from Gardaí and local residents alike.
The judge said the lack of proper management at the premises, particularly over the past year – which had resulted in Gardai having to deal with several public order incidents in the area – had led her to refuse the granting of the licence.
Eight objectors to the licence renewal clapped as the judge gave her judgement.
The owner of the Lantern Bar, Mary Lydon, 10 Blake’s Hill, Gentian Hill, Salthill, had applied to the Annual Licensing District Court for the transfer to her of the seven-day ordinary licence attached to The Lantern Bar and Snooker Hall, which had been licensed to her now former tenant, Kingu Kongu Ltd, and licensee, Danny Kenny.
Mrs Lydon had also applied to the court for the transfer of the licence, in accordance with the provisions of Section 30 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1927, “freed and discharged from any endorsements against, or records of offences committed by the former licensee”.
Sergeant Brendan Moore, who is the Licensing Sergeant for Galway City objected to the renewal of the annual licence on behalf of the Gardaí.
Mr Kenny was not present for the contested hearing.
Handing a medical report into court, his solicitor informed Judge Fahy that Mr Kenny contacted him two hours before the hearing was scheduled to begin that afternoon, stating he would be unable to attend due to a medical condition.
Judge Fahy refused the solicitor’s request to adjourn the hearing, noting the objectors had been in court all day waiting for the case to be heard.
Sgt Moore said he had given the solicitor a document, summarising the Garda objections to the granting of the licence, listing five different incidents which were alleged to have happened in or near the pub.
Benen Fahy, solicitor, explained he represented Mrs Lydon. Mr Fahy said Mr Kenny had surrendered his lease of the pub to Mrs Lydon in August and had signed the back of the licence to facilitate its transfer to her and the premises had been closed since then.
He said his client had not been aware of any problems with the management of the premises until recently and she now wanted to regularise matters.
“She has put the property up for sale and does not intend to open it again,” he added.
Sgt Moore called evidence to support the Gardaí’s application objecting to the renewal.
Five Gardaí in turn gave evidence about several public order incidents which were alleged to have occurred in the vicinity of the pub in the last year.
Garda Paul Gahan said he received a report of men fighting in the pub’s carpark on Sunday morning, June 2 last. He arrived there at 1.20am to find one man being assaulted by several members of his own family. All were intoxicated and informed him they had been drinking earlier in the pub. Closing time was 12.30a.m.
“It took at least six Gardaí arriving in three Garda cars up to 20 minutes to diffuse the situation. The injured man withdrew his complaint so no prosecutions ensued,” he said.
Garda Pat Casey gave evidence he inspected the pub at 1am on May 12 last and found a number of people, including a 16-year-old juvenile, drinking there. He confirmed a prosecution was pending for that matter.
Garda Michael Gallagher said he was called to the premises at 12.30am on May 6 last after the manager reported a large Christening party had “gone out of control” upstairs in the pub.
He said the manager remained outside the premises as he and a female colleague tried to get the forty or so intoxicated family members to leave. “It was totally out of control and we had to call for assistance. There was chaos inside. There was no staff upstairs. They left it to the Gardaí to sort it out. The manager said he had lost control,” he told the court.
Garda Gallagher said he tried to reason with the father of the baby boy who had been christened but had to arrest him when he became threatening and abusive when asked to leave the area.
He confirmed that at least 12 Gardaí had to lend assistance on the night.
Garda Cian O’Boyle said he noticed one of the men at the Christening party upstairs in the pub had blood all over his face. He said he went to speak to a juvenile who was drinking but the juvenile ran outside into the carpark where he started fighting with another male.
He said he arrested the juvenile for being drunk in public and for breaching the peace.
Garda Christine Galvin said she responded to an incident in the early hours of New Year’s Day along with several Garda units, including the armed Regional Support Unit.
She said that up to 70 patrons were engaging in verbal disputes outside the pub.
“People were pulling each other’s hair. It was unsafe to enter the premises as people were leaving it. Gardaí were trying to get control of things happening outside.
“Patrons were crossing the road in front of traffic. Some went into Lios na Rún and started arguing there. People were arrested and a file is with the DPP about what happened that night.
“The premises was open and people were exiting as Gardaí arrived. The Gardaí were there to maintain control of the situation. People were very intoxicated, aggressive and very disrespectful to the Gardaí there.
“I just felt sorry for people living in the area,” Garda Galvin said.
Sgt Moore said he had never met the licensee on the many occasions he had inspected The Lantern pub, and he said he had inspected it more often than any other premises in the city since taking charge of Garda licensing matters.
“There was no proper control of the premises by the licensee and no regard for the Licensing Act.
“This is a densely populated residential area and the number of disturbances that have emanated from that premises and that have spilled out into the surrounding housing estates, has affected people’s quality of life,” Sgt Moore added.
Mr Kenny’s solicitor said he felt the Garda’s application, objecting to the renewal of the licence, should be struck out as the evidence stated some of the incidents occurred outside the premises and the licensee could not be held accountable for those.
Mr Fahy said the premises had been taken back and the licensee (Mr Kenny) had no involvement with it any more. He noted prosecutions were pending and they should be dealt with and those responsible punished for whatever breaches of the licensing laws they were responsible for. Judge Fahy said her hands were tied because Mr Kenny was not in court to give evidence saying he was no longer involved.
Mary Lydon gave evidence she had leased the premises to Kingu Kongu Ltd for four years and nine months from April 2016. She said her son, Terry Lydon, looks after a portfolio of eight pubs which she owns.
She said her son started to have concerns over the running of the premises in recent months and spoke to the licensee who agreed to surrender the lease.
Mrs Lydon said she would be putting the premises up for sale after works were carried out to the satisfaction of the Fire Officer.
Sgt Moore put it to Mrs Lydon she was giving the impression she didn’t know what was going on at the premises or how it was being ran even though she lived in Galway.
“Should the license be renewed here today, how will we know that you won’t transfer it to another tenant?” he asked.
Mrs Lydon said she would not be leasing it again.
“I only want my licence back to get rid of the whole lot,” she replied.
Sgt Moore put to her that the licensee was aware of the Garda objections to the renewal since August, so he was aware of the objections when he surrendered the lease back to her in September.
“Don’t you know that this is merely a device to avoid objections and refusal of the licence renewal? He ran amok up there.
“You will find another tenant and in the meantime, no one is responsible for what went on,” Sgt Moore said.
“There will not be another licensee up there,” Mrs Lydon tried to assure him.
“We don’t know that,” the sergeant replied.
Terry Lydon said a YouTube video he saw last January of people arguing in the pub carpark prompted him to speak to Mr Kenny, telling him it was time for him to “move on” and hand the premises back.
Sgt Moore said there was nothing to stop witness getting another tenant in there “and continue your ‘hands-off, laissez-faire’ approach, expecting the Gardai to run your property for you”.
Mr Lydon said he took steps to get the premises back and he did get it back in September.
Judge Fahy observed it was strange that nobody was “moved on” the licensee in January, February or March and not until the licence came up for renewal in September, even though witness was aware of problems in its management since January.
Judge Fahy observed it was up to the licensee to control a premises and not the Gardaí.
She upheld the Garda objections and made an order refusing the renewal of the licence, stating the premises was not being run properly.
Mr Fahy asked about his application to have the licence transferred to his client.
“Your licence has not been renewed so you have nothing to transfer,” Judge Fahy replied.
She said she had made her order and he could appeal her decision to a higher court if he so wished.
She said that for the transfer application to proceed, the licensee would have to be in court.
“It’s unprecedented that the licensee is not in court and I’m not happy the medical letter is genuine. It covers yesterday and today I do not know, but the licensee is not in court,” the judge said.
Mr Fahy said his application was for the transfer of the current licence to his client and he asked the judge to adjourn the application to another date.
Judge Fahy again refused the application, stating the licensee had not been in control of the premises and the owner, since last January, had made absolutely no effort to remedy the situation and take it back until last month.
She reiterated she was refusing the application for transfer of the licence back to Mrs Lydon.
Mr Fahy intimated he would be appealing the court’s decision.
The residents clapped when the final order was made.
Afterwards, one woman said eight objectors had come to court to represent the people of Ballybane.
“We’re all very happy with the decision. That’s all we want to say,” she said. “No more drink late at night,” another woman added.
“It will be akin to the notorious Rahoon flats”
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – More than 700 local residents have signed a petition against plans for the construction of 330 apartments in Knocknacarra – which have been likened to “the notorious Rahoon flats”.
Child safeguarding concerns have also been raised by the principal of Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh – who pointed out that the apartments will look directly into 19 classrooms.
A total of 27 objections were lodged against Glenveagh Living’s plans to build 332 apartments in six blocks – ranging from four storeys to seven storeys in height.
Locals have demanded An Bord Pleanála hold an oral hearing into the plans – that planning authority is due to make a decision by March 20, although it can decide to hold such a hearing first.
One of the objections – which accuses the developer of designing “tenement style” homes in a “blatant attempt to profiteer from the housing crisis” – was signed by more than 700 local residents.
Another objector said the development was “akin to the notorious Rahoon flats, with people being packed on top of each other”.
Locals have raised concerns about the huge number of apartments planned; overshadowing of homes; inadequate open space, playing pitches and community infrastructure; parking and traffic problems; low quality of design and road safety.
Glenveagh Living did not respond to a request from the Galway City Tribune for comment.
This is a preview only. To read extensive coverage of the Glenveagh plans and objections, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.
Arts fraternity rallies as Theo faces deportation
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Less than a year after being invited by the Arts Council to perform at a conference about diversity in the arts, a musician, DJ and rapper – who is about to embark on a project for Galway 2020 – is facing deportation.
Theophilus Ndlovu left Zimbabwe after what he claims was a lifetime of abuse at the hands of the people who were supposed to mind him.
His mother left when he was just six years old and he never met his father. He was placed in the care of an unofficial foster family but it was never a happy arrangement.
“These people I stayed with were abusing me. They were never my family. I was running away from persecution and abuse and the way I was treated by these people. I had to fend for myself since I was ten years old,” he recalls.
When Theo was 20, he saved up enough money from mowing lawns and selling chickens to escape, arriving in Ireland where he sought asylum. Authorities placed him in a Direct Provision Centre in Finglas for a fortnight before he was transferred to the Great Western Direct Provision Centre off Eyre Square, where he has remained for nearly four years.
Almost immediately, Theo felt at home.
“This is my family. Galway is where I found my voice. It has become my home. It is just where I’m meant to be.”
Theo has immersed himself in the arts community and has become a leading hip-hop artist, known as Touché, performing regularly at venues such as the Róisín Dubh and the Black Gate. He was instrumental in getting fellow asylum seekers and refugees involved in music collaborations.
He is a founding member of the multicultural music project ‘Atmos Collective’ and has facilitated numerous music workshops in Galway, “teaching, motivating and inspiring hundreds of young people along the way”, according to co-founder Alice McDowell, an Australian filmmaker and fiddler.
The collective was recently granted funding by the Galway European Capital of Culture 2020 committee to host community music workshops in the city and county over the next year as part of their ‘Small Towns Big Ideas’ scheme.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.
The petition is available online HERE
Regeneration funding sought for community centre
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – With a decision imminent on planning permission to build a new community centre in Newcastle, city councillors will be asked next Monday to support an application for major government funding to proceed with the project.
A motion by Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) will seek the approval of the City Council to make an application for funding under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) – an overall fund of €2bn available for major infrastructural projects in cities.
Chairman of the Newcastle Combined Community Association (NCCA) Seamus Davey said that they expected a decision on their planning application by the end of January, and were hopeful of getting the support of councillors for this funding application.
“While planning permission hasn’t been granted yet – it has dragged on a bit because of a request for further information – we expect to have it approved soon.
“This project will be shovel ready and as soon as we get planning permission, we’ll have the engineering documents drawn up. As soon as we have funding, we’ll be putting it out to tender,” said Mr Davey.
The Council is set to reach a decision on the application on February 6.
The proposal for funding under the URDF has to come from the Council so it is crucial the project got the full backing of Council members, Mr Davey added.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.