Plans to ban gambling arcades from setting up in towns and villages in Co Cork have been put on hold after Cork County Council received legal advice on the matter which raised more questions than answers.
Members of Charleville/Fermoy municipal district council sought to widen legislation first used in the 1980s by the former Fermoy Town Council to ban gaming arcades in its jurisdiction.
An application for a gambling arcade was made recently in Fermoy, but for the outskirts of the town where the prohibitive bylaw is not in place.
It was widely objected to by locals and permission for it was refused by An Bord Pleanála.
A number of other applications have been made for gambling arcades in other towns in recent weeks.
The municipal district council wants to prevent these by widening the bylaws which are used in Fermoy to cover the whole of the county.
Its members had asked senior county council officials to examine their proposal under Part 3 of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1976 and they replied that they would have to seek legal advice.
At a recent meeting of the Charleville/Fermoy municipal district council, Fine Gael councillor Noel McCarthy asked for an update on progress.
He was informed by a senior county council official that legal advice they have received has thrown up more questions than answers. They didn’t expand any further on the questions.
However, they said as a result of the advice, they are having to seek guidance from a number of government departments, understood to be Justice, Finance and Local Government.
Mr McCarthy said he is disappointed with the reply.
“Waiting this long is totally unacceptable,” he said.
The Social Democrats’ June Murphy, who chairs the municipal district council, agreed, pointing out there has been a planning application for a gambling arcade in her hometown of Mitchelstown, which locals are vehemently opposed to.
“While we’re waiting on this these companies are putting further applications in,” said Ms Murphy.
Council officials reiterated that they need further information and have “flagged some issues” with the Government departments.
They added that “due diligence is needed” and would hope to be in a position to report back to county councillors in September.
Fine Gael councillor Kay Dawson said District Courts could refuse a gaming licence.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil councillor Frank O’Flynn said that a stipulation might be included in town development plans to prohibit new gambling arcade setting up.
The county council formulates plans every few years as blueprints for growth in towns and villages.
Mr O’Flynn said this is worth exploring: “We don’t want any of these gaming arcades in our towns.”
An Bord Pleanála decided to uphold the decision of Cork County Council to refuse permission for the gambling arcade at the junction of Cork Road/Duntahane Road in Fermoy.
The area is outside the jurisdiction of the bylaw.
The planning appeals board refused the application because the proposed business would have been located within a neighbourhood centre, close to an established residential area and in close proximity to a number of schools.
It also said that on-road parking and traffic generated by the business would have been likely to endanger public safety.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved