A restaurant franchise chain is claiming it can help curb antisocial behaviour in a busy tourist town if it is allowed stay open until 3.30am at weekends.
Authorities in Killarney, Co Kerry, have been trying to restrict late-night opening of takeaway food outlets because of trouble caused by people remaining on the streets after pubs and nightclubs have closed. The former town council also imposed a ban on the opening of new chippers.
However, the OKR group, which operates 26 Burger King outlets countrywide, has applied to Kerry County Council for planning permission to extend its opening hours in Killarney from 1am to 3.30am on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and from 1am to 2am on Mondays.
The group provides security at its College Street outlet, in the heart of Killarney, and says that would help create a safe after-hours environment.
“By changing the operating hours in our Killarney premises, an element of anti-social behaviour will be removed from the streets as people will have a location to go and eat in a restaurant with security present,” OKR said.
The group also told the council its application aims to redress a “commercial and planning imbalance” regarding opening hours that competitor restaurants along the street currently enjoy and that was being denied at its premises.
The group further asked the council to rectify an “unfair impediment” regarding its current trading hours by extending its hours of business. Some of Burger King’s competitor takeaways can stay open until around 3am. The reasons for this, according to council sources, is that these premises have been trading for many years — well before the 1am limit was imposed as a planning condition on new takeaways, about a decade ago.
Independent county councillor and former Killarney town councillor Donal Grady yesterday said the town council had been forced to take action because trouble was being caused by people staying on the streets all hours. There had also been a littering issue at a time when Killarney was trying to win the national Tidy Towns award, which it eventually succeeded in doing in 2011, he added.
“The feeling now is that Killarney town has enough takeaways,” Mr Grady said. “My own view also is that 1am is a reasonable closing time and there shouldn’t be any new extensions of that time. We’ve enough takeaways open until 3am.”
He said he did not agree that allowing premises to open until 3.30am, even with security, would help curtail an anti-social behaviour problem. A decision on the planning application is due next month.
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