CLARE County Council does not have to pick up the messes and human misery created in Ennis, a judge said this week when refusing a certificate to operate an adult-only amusement arcade in the county town, writes Gordon Deegan.
Judge Patrick Durcan made the comments in Ennis District Court when the applying solicitor said the Council had granted planning permission to operate 60 gaming machines for a new adult-only amusement arcade.
Judge Durcan replied that the council would not have considered the impact the arcade would have on the social fabric of society. He opined that there are already enough gaming machines in operation in Ennis town centre.
Judge Durcan refused the application by Girdol Ennis Ltd pointing out that there are already three other certificates in operation for a total of 105 gaming machines for Ennis town centre. The judge said the relevant Act stated that he shall have regard to the number of gaming certificates in the area when making a decision on a new certificate application.
He stated: “The area is adequately catered for by a number of certificates currently in force and since most of these certificates were granted, online gaming has become a very definite aspect of social life in this country and accordingly I refuse this application.”
Girdol Ennis Ltd has taken out a 15-year lease on the building to house the over-21 amusement arcade and has already “spent quite a lot making it very comfortable for the customers” according to solicitor for Girdol, Ciaran O’Keeffe.
Mr O’Keeffe told Judge Durcan that Gardai have no objections to the certificate application and that Clare County Council granted planning permission for the proposed amusement arcade at Howard’s Market, Woodquay, Ennis.
In response, Judge Durcan said: “Clare County Council do not have to pick up the messes in this town. It is the task of this court to pick up the messes and pick up the human misery and problems created by certain activities including activities of this nature I would submit – no matter how well run.”
Judge Durcan added there is a substantial body of thinking which holds the view that such adult amusement arcades lead to addiction problems in the whole area of betting.
Mr O’Keeffe told Judge Durcan that his client already operates similar arcades in Limerick, Mullingar and Athlone “without any difficulty”. The solicitor also told Judge Durcan that the Council planner would have taken into account a number of factors and he stated that there were no objections from the company’s competitors in the area.
Judge Durcan responded “This court is not a planning authority and judges are entitled to have individual points of view.”
Girdol now has the option of appealing Judge Durcan’s ruling to the circuit court.