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Late drinkers fled out side door when garda came knocking

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A JUDGE has admitted “I don’t know the price of a pint” after hearing that a publican illegally sold €85.80 worth of alcohol to patrons after hours in August of last year.

Judge Mary Larkin made the comment at Killaloe District Court after hearing evidence that late night revellers inside Liam O’Riain’s pub in Ballina, Co Tipperary could be heard by a Garda at the front door ‘shushing’ inside the locked front door of the pub after the Garda knocked on the door before 20 to 30 were seen streaming out a side entrance.

Sergeant Louis Moloney told the Killaloe Court sitting in Ennis that on August 28 last after entering the pub, Gardai carried out an examination of till sales between midnight and 12.44am and they found that €85.80 was spent on alcohol.

In response, Judge Larkin said: “€85? I don’t know the price of a pint so you have to tell me about that later.”

Sergeant Moloney said that at 12.45am on September 4 last, one week later, Gardai while on mobile patrol could hear people shouting loudly within Liam O’Riain’s pub.

The sergeant stated that a Garda knocked at the door “and loudly identified herself as a Garda – the noise stopped and people could be heard shushing inside”.

He said that the Garda knocked a second time “and then went to the side door and observed a large number of people – between 25 to 30 – leaving via a side door”.

Sergeant Moloney stated that on entering the premises, Gardai observed glasses of drink on the tables and observed that other glasses were full.

In the case, Liam McKeogh (53) of Cragg, Birdhill, Co Tipperary pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawfully allowing his premises to serve alcohol at a time prohibited by the Intoxicating Liquor Act.

Solicitor for Mr McKeogh, John Casey said that Mr McKeogh was 31 years in the pub trade with a clean record.

Mr Casey said that Mr McKeogh has stopped operating as a publican and has handed the lease back.

He said: “He does a small bit of farming and that is what is sustaining him at the moment.”

The solicitor said: “Mr McKeogh had gone through a very difficult time himself emotionally, financially that included everything in relation to the pub being closed due to Covid.”

On the two nights, Mr Casey said: “The difficulty was that they were all local people. This wasn’t stags or hens. It is the publican’s responsibility obviously to get people out and it was a case of ‘one more pint’ and that is what happened.”

Mr Casey said: “Mr McKeogh’s 31 years clean record has to stand to him and this has effectively put an end to that career.”

In similar cases over the years, Mr Casey said, the ‘found-ons’ would also be brought before the court.

He said: “It would be day time pub time again at court and they would end up in the Copper Jug across the way.”

Judge Larkin convicted Mr McKeogh on each count and fined him €200 in total.

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