The owner of The Lantern in Ballybane has succeeded in having the bar’s annual drinks licence renewed, paving the way for the premises to be sold.
An order made in the District Court by Judge Mary Fahy in November – refusing to renew the pub’s annual drinks licence – was quashed by Judge James McCourt at an appeals hearing in the Circuit Court a week ago.
Residents, who had applauded Judge Fahy when she refused the licence in the District Court, were quite despondent when it was renewed by the Circuit Court.
Afterwards, they said they were anxious to find out who the new owner would be and were not very hopeful that things would change at the pub.
Mary Lydon, from Gentian Hill, who owns the Lantern Bar, had applied to the Annual Licensing District Court in November for a renewal of the licence and also its transfer back to her, after former tenant, Danny Kenny, nominee and director of Kingu Kongu Ltd had it handed back to her when he vacated the premises last September.
Refusing the renewal or transfer applications in November, Judge Fahy said the lack of proper management at the premises – particularly during all of last year – which had resulted in Gardai having to deal with several public order incidents in the area, had led her to refuse the applications.
Ms Lydon sought to allay the District Court and local residents’ concerns about the running of the pub by Mr Kenny throughout 2019 by telling Judge Fahy in November that she would not be leasing the premises again and that she intended to sell it. However, the sale could not go through unless the licence was renewed, she said.
The appeal hearing was told last week that another well-known publican, who was not identified in court, was keen to purchase the premises providing the licence was attached.
Terry Lydon, who said he managed his mother’s many properties, confirmed he had a purchaser for the pub on condition the licence came with it.
Sergeant Brendan Moore, who is the dedicated licensing Sergeant for Galway City, said he was objecting to the licence renewal because of the way the premises had been run by Mr Kenny. Gardaí had been called to deal with 31 Public Order incidents – five of which were very serious – at the pub on several dates, starting with New Year’s Eve last year and right up to when the pub closed last August, he said.
He said he had taken it upon himself to visit the premises regularly at closing times last year and had taken up to a dozen Gardai with him on each occasion to ensure the premises was closed properly.
In reply to Judge McCourt, the Sergeant said the Lantern Bar was the only premises in Galway that was out of control on New Year’s Eve last year.
“I never saw the licensee (Kenny) there. I made many visits to the pub and he was never there,” the Sgt added.
He said he feared that if the licence was renewed now, then in the future, when Gardaí gave notice of objecting to the renewal of any licence, it would simply be transferred to someone else to avoid objections.
“If we object to any premises, there is an opt-out clause now and if we give notice of objections that opt-out clause is there for people to use,” Sgt Moore pointed out.
Mr Kenny gave evidence at the appeal hearing that while he was the licensee at the time, he had appointed a bar manager who had full responsibility for running the premises.
He said he called to the premises weekly and viewed an incident diary which the manager kept.
Mr Kenny said he had not been informed of any problems by his manager and he suggested that if the Gardaí – whom, he said, knew him well – had approached him directly, he would have dealt with matters swiftly.
Under cross-examination by State solicitor, Willie Kennedy, Mr Kenny said he had signed over the licence and handed back the lease to Terry Lydon last September because business was slow and his company’s debts, including rent arrears of up to €8,000, were mounting, adding that Kingu Kongu Ltd had since been liquidated.
He denied the rent debt had been written off on him surrendering the lease and licence months before the lease was due to expire.
Mr Kennedy put it to him that handing the licence and premises back early it had been a device to avoid objections and refusal of the licence renewal.
Judge McCourt compared Mr Kennedy’s application to the court to impose the ‘ultimate sanction’ by refusing the renewal of the licence, to a ‘Doomsday scenario’.
“A lot of store has been given to unruly incidents but incidents always arise. It certainly is not the first case where a licensee, such as Mr Kenny, has been put in a situation where the landlord takes a premises back.
“But is there anything to suggest that the surrender and handing back was nothing more than arm’s length and voluntary?” Judge McCourt asked Mr Kennedy.
“The surrender was two years early,” Mr Kennedy replied.
“If you were a landlord and there was trouble you might take back your property and waive rent due to keep the licence,” Judge McCourt suggested.
Mr Kennedy said there was evidence before the court that the premises was badly run and the Gardai were objecting to the renewal of the licence because they felt the licensee was not properly running the premises.
“The court is adopting the stance that if the property is transferred at arm’s length then that is okay,” Mr Kennedy said.
Judge McCourt replied: “If no one can offer evidence of something sinister going on or evidence there was collusion between the landlord and the tenant, then the transfer was legitimate,” Judge McCourt replied.
Mr Paul McGettigan BL, instructed by solicitor, Glenn Keaney, for Ms Lydon, said Mr Kennedy was insinuating the licence had been “laundered” but in fact, discussions (between Mr Kenny and Tony Lydon) had been going on since the previous January. The business, he said, was not performing and was in debt and his client had approached Mr Kenny on several occasions.
“There is nothing untoward here,” he said.
Judge McCourt said he was satisfied the objections raised in the matter were well founded and they were accepted by everybody, including Mr Kenny and the Lydons.
“On the face of it, it was a legitimate, valid surrender,” he held.
The judge said he could not ignore the fact he had been told that Ms Lydon had a new occupier ‘lined up’
“The premises is back in secure hands and the licence is back in secure hands,” he noted.
The judge said it was appropriate in the circumstances to allow the appeal and renew the licence attached to the premises.
A spokesperson for a large group of local residents, who attended the appeal hearing, said: “We are the people living with the consequences of the pub. This is a residential area. There are elderly people, there are disabled people and there are ordinary people of many ethnic backgrounds most of whom hate the thought of the pub being reopened.
“We can only pray that the new owners at least try and run a better establishment but we’re not very hopeful.”
Titans return to the national league for coming season
TITANS BC is returning to the national league for the upcoming 2020/21 season, one of four new teams that will compete in the Men’s Division 1 this year.
The city side will play in the Northern Conference of the league alongside fellow new sides, Drogheda Wolves and Malahide, along with Ulster University from Belfast; LYIT from Donegal; Sligo All-Stars; and Dublin Lions and Tolka Rovers from Dublin.
That looks to be the easier of the two conferences: Dublin Lions were relegated from the Super League at the end of last season, LYIT finished 5th in Division 1, Sligo finished 8th, Ulster University finished 9th, and Tolka Rovers finished 10th in a 12-team league competition that ran as a single league, rather than split into two conferences.
With four new teams for the coming season – Team Kerry are the 4th new side – Division 1 is returning to a split conference format, and all the heavy-hitters would appear to be in the Southern Conference.
Team Kerry will be joined by fellow Killarney side, St Paul’s, which finished second in the league last season, as well as Cork’s Fr Mathews and IT Carlow, who finished 3rd and 4th respectively.
Limerick Celtics and Limerick Eagles, who finished 6th and 7th, are also in the Southern Conference, as well as last season’s bottom two, WIT Waterford and Portlaoise Panthers.
Titans took a one-year hiatus from the league last season, having endured a torrid 2018/19 campaign when it finished with the worst record in the league, winning just two of its 23 league games to finish bottom of the Northern Conference.
Maree and Moycullen will once again represent Galway in the Men’s Super League, which is also being split into a two-conference format, with six teams in each conference. However, while Titans will be looking north for their main opposition, Maree and Moycullen will be looking in the opposite direction as both have been placed in the South Conference.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.
Group hurling ties to be restricted to supporters of participating teams
NO neutrals will be allowed to attend the opening round of the revamped Galway senior hurling championship which is scheduled to start in little more than a fortnight’s time.
A gathering of 500 – likely to also include the rival players and mentors – will be restricted to each group game, with the participating clubs set to be allocated around 200 tickets each for sale/distribution ahead of the fixture.
A mechanism has still to be sorted for this process, but matches will be restricted to Galway’s three county grounds: Pearse Stadium, Kenny Park, Athenry and Duggan Park, Ballinasloe, along with Loughrea. Killimor was the fifth venue in consideration for hosting senior games, but redevelopment work at the ground has ruled out that prospect.
The full round of 12 group ties will go ahead on the weekend ending July 26, but there will be no double headers. Instead, games at the same venues will be staged four hours apart to allow sanitisation of the various grounds.
Only people with tickets will gain entry to the games and there will be no cash taken at the turnstiles.
Street fight thugs from viral video outside Garda HQ avoid jail
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Two men and a woman who were involved in a ‘staged’ fistfight outside the new Garda HQ in Renmore were warned they will serve prison sentences if they don’t stay off social media for two years.
Suspended sentences were imposed on all three over the incident which was recorded on mobile phone and footage went viral on social media.
The altercation between John Maughan (27), formerly of Rinville Park, Oranmore, who now lives in Dublin, and Patrick Maughan (31), of 122 Laurel Park, Newcastle, was filmed on Patrick Maughan’s phone by his wife, Ellen Maughan (31), who is John Maughan’s sister.
The footage was uploaded that evening to YouTube, where it gained a lot of traction.
Galway District Court heard this week the trio were sitting in their cars when Gardaí arrived at the scene within a matter of minutes.
They were subsequently charged with affray at Dublin Road, Murrough, Renmore, on November 2, 2018, in that all three used or threatened to use violence towards each other, thereby putting other people present in fear for their own safety and the safety of others.
Both men were also charged with breaching the peace.
Garda Pat Casey told the sentence hearing the incident occurred at 2.30pm on the main road between GMIT and the Garda HQ.
He said the men’s cars met, whether by accident or design, at that location where they got out and had a fist fight in the middle of the road.
Judge Mary Fahy asked if the location chosen for the fight, right outside the new Garda HQ, was deliberate.
Garda Casey said the men claimed they met by accident, “but that was where they met”, he added.
“The inference is they did it deliberately outside the Station to make it even better on social media. They are an absolute disgrace to do that in public and to do it in front of their children,” Judge Fahy said.
This is a shortened preview version of this court report. To read the article in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.