Shebeen celebrates ‘Mickey Mouse’ fine in court ruling

PATRONS of the Southill shebeen gathered last night to celebrate what locals described as the “Mickey Mouse” fine handed down after a judge ruled it was an illegal drinking premises.

Judge Tom O’Donnell at Limerick District Court yesterday ruled the premises had all “the appearances, vestiges, attributes, and dare I say it, ambience” of a pub.

A maximum fine of £50 old pounds is provided for in the 1962 Intoxicating Liquor Act under which the case was brought. Judge O’Donnell said this converted to €63.49 and he imposed a fine of this amount.

A legal source said under the 1962 Act, the maximum penalty is very modest by today’s standards but it can be continued for day-by-day breaches. However, the gardaí would have to raid the Shebeen on a daily basis to secure such penalties.

A shebeen customer last night said: “I think we are ok, the fines are Mickey Mouse, and the guards will get fed up raiding us.”

The shebeen, known as Mother Kelly’s, is located in a large shed at the rear of the home of Rita Kelly.

Anthony Kelly, 48, who lives at 121 O’Malley Park, maintained the shed was set up like a bar by his brother Francie, 34 to entertain friends.

Outside the court yesterday, Anthony Kelly said: “The verdict is atrocious and we’ll appeal it. The shed has nothing to do with me.”

Francie Kelly said he was heading to the shed for a few pints to recover from the shock of the verdict and invited reporters to join him.

He said: “I am barred from every pub in Limerick and it is illegal to drink in a public place, so I am forced to drink in my own home with my friends. I will drink in my own home to the day I die.”

Insp Gerry McNamara gave evidence of raiding the premises in April.

Some of the drink was stored in a standalone bar fridge. There were optic taps to dispense shorts. It had a pool table, game machine, tables and chairs and toilets marked Ladies and Gents.

Judge O’Donnell said a system operated whereby people contributed into a kitty and Francie Kelly would use this money to buy drink from wholesalers.

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