Controversial Limerick ‘shebeen’ back in business

THE controversial “shebeen” in Southill which was closed down by a court last October is back in business.

Francie Kelly, 34, gave an undertaking to Limerick District Court eight months ago to dismantle the shebeen, which was ruled to be in contravention of the city’s planning laws.

However, four people were found drinking at the shebeen when gardaí raided the premises at around 1.30am on Saturday last. A quantity of drink was seized and gardaí removed a metal door to gain access.

The shebeen is located in a shed at the back of the Kelly home in Lilac Court.

Francie Kelly said a recent court ruling on the bog hotel operated in Co Donegal by Patsy Brogan made him change his mind and reopen.

He said: “The bog hotel was prosecuted by the guards and the judge ruled he was doing nothing wrong and why should the people of Limerick be discriminated against? It appears there is one rule up there and another one down here so I will be fighting any charges.”

At last October’s court hearing, Francie Kelly was fined €1,500 and ordered to pay €750 costs.

Insp Gerry McNamara told the court he visited the premises on October 8, and was satisfied all bar fittings had been removed.

On an earlier visit, he could not get access and had to speak to Kelly through a letter-box.

Judge Tom O’Donnell said fines totalling almost €30,000 could have been imposed, but he was going to fine Kelly €1,500, as he was satisfied the premises had closed.

On leaving court last October, Francie Kelly said he would continue to drink in his own home.

At that time he said: “The bar is gone but the drink rolls on. I will always drink in my own home unless they lock me up for it. I am going up there now for a drink.”

Due to an outdated provision in the intoxicating liquor laws, the shebeen had been able to continue trading despite numerous Garda raids in which thousands of euro worth of drink was confiscated.

A fixed fine of £50 (€63.29) was imposed at Limerick City Court last year when a brother of Francie Kelly, Anthony Kelly, was convicted of being in charge of a shebeen and this was upheld by Limerick Circuit Court.

Limerick City Council successfully secured a ruling from the city court that Francis Kelly was in breach of the Planning Act 2000 by having a premises developed for use as a shebeen without planning.

Senior planning officer Kieran Reeves had told the court he had served an enforcement notice on Francis Kelly to remove an unauthorised development at the rear of the family home in Southill.

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