*Cllr Alan O’Callaghan. Photograph: Eamon Ward

GARDAÍ DETECTED over 50 people after 1am in a rural pub then operated by a Fianna Fail member of Clare County Council during Covid-19 restrictions, a court has heard.

At Ennis District Court on Wednesday, Alan O’Callaghan (46) paid out €500 to the Court Discretionary Fund or Poor Box after pleading guilty as license holder to contravening regulations to prevent, limit, minimise or slow the spread of Covid-19 at his Pump House pub on two successive nights on Saturday October 16th and Sunday October 17th 2021.

After Mr O’Callaghan of Rosroe, Kilmurry, Sixmilebridge paid over the €500, Judge Mary Larkin struck out the two cases against the man.

Judge Larkin struck out the cases after solicitor for Mr O’Callaghan, Stiofan Fitzpatrick asked that she not criminalise his client.

Mr Fitzpatrick said that Mr O’Callaghan never had an issue or any difficulty in twelve years of operating the Pump House.

He said that it is a testament to Mr O’Callaghan’s good history that he operated the pub for twelve years without receiving any summons.

Mr Fitzpatrick said Mr O’Callaghan no longer operates the pub after the lease expired late last year.

In court, Sgt Aiden Lonergan said that on October 16th 2021, Gardai entered the Pump House, Kilmurry, Sixmilebridge, at 00.57am during Covid-19.

Sgt Lonergan said, “There were three persons with full alcohol drinks in front of them at the bar and they left when asked to do so by Gardai”.

Sgt Lonergan said that when asked to produce a receipt of the last alcohol sold, it showed that alcohol was still being served at 00.24am.

Sgt Lonergan said that Gardai returned the following night at 1.05am and this time found that there were over 50 people on the premises and when asked Mr O’Callaghan produced a till receipt for 00.38am.

Sgt Lonergan said that Mr O’Callaghan said that this was for a drink bought earlier in the night.

Sgt Lonergan stated, “There were a number of alcoholic drinks at the bar and on the tables. On both dates, the premises were in breach of Covid regulations that were in place at the time”.

On Mr O’Callaghan’s behalf, Mr Fitzpatrick said, “Mr O’Callaghan had this premises for over 12 years without issue and never had any difficulty. Covid times hit and no one suffered more than the publicans did”.

He said that on the first night, the only reason the three people were there was because Mr O’Callaghan agreed to drop them home

Mr Fitzpatrick said, “The premises is in a rural area and three miles outside the village of Sixmilebridge. It is a stand alone pub and outside the school functions and brings people together in a close knit community”.

He said, “As things were relaxed with Covid, people were coming out more frequently and learning what was involved and they were facilitated and unfortunately the Garda called”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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