Up to five customers were smoking illegally in a Co Limerick pub and the bar counter was strewn with ashtrays full of butts, it was alleged in court today.
The evidence was heard at Limerick District Court where the first ever cases were brought against two Limerick publicans for alleged breaches of the smoking ban on September 18 last year .
Outlining the allegations against one of the pubs, senior environmental officer with the Mid Western Health Board Andrew Curtin said he went to Hanley's Bar, Main Street, Kilteely, Co Limerick, after a complaint was made about smoking on the premises.
Mr Curtin told the court that when he arrived at the premises on September 18 last there were five men smoking at the bar counter. Judge Tom O'Donnell was told that there were ashtrays on the bar counter containing cigarette butts and some tobacco box wrapping.
"Smoke was visible in the bar and there was an aroma of tobacco," said Mr Curtin. The court heard that the proprietor of the pub, William Hanley, spoke to Mr Curtin and "more or less admitted" that people were smoking inside the pub and he was "waiting for something to happen".
Judge Tom O'Donnell said it "looks like something has happened" and asked if Mr Hanley was present in court. The defendant's solicitor, Sarah Ryan, said her client was not present as he had recently suffered a bereavement in his family and she asked that the case be adjourned.
Judge O'Donnell agreed and adjourned the matter until February 24. A second case against a Limerick publican was adjourned yesterday.
Dave Hayes of Ross Bevan Ltd, trading as Nolan's Bar on Nicholas Street in Limerick, was also before the court yesterday for alleged breaches of the smoking ban.
His case is also due to be heard on February 24. A total of 1,850 inspections were carried out by the Mid Western Health Board in the region last year.
A breakdown of figures released by the board, which is now called the Health Service Executive Mid West, reveals compliance levels of 98% in Limerick, 97% in Clare and 92% in Tipperary.
To date, health inspectors have investigated 93 complaints in Limerick, 91 in Clare and 121 in north Tipperary. It is understood one further prosecution is pending in Limerick, three in north Tipperary and one in Clare.