Gardaí will not object to the renewal of the drinks licence of the controversial Co Galway hotel at the centre of the Golfgate scandal unless its criminal investigation into the business finds that it breached Covid-19 laws on the organising of events.
Garda sources have suggested that no position will be formed regarding the hotel licence — due for renewal on September 30 — of the Station House Hotel in Clifden, Co Galway, which hosted the infamous 80-person Oireachtas Golf Society dinner last month, until the investigation is completed.
Last week, gardaí at Pearse Street Station in Dublin objected in the District Court to the renewal of Berlin D2’s licence due to the bar — the site of an infamous video shot in August showing customers at an afternoon ‘brunch’ ignoring social distancing, and a barman pouring drinks into some people’s mouths — not complying with social-distancing regulations.
It is understood that gardaí believe they would not have a solid basis to object to the Station House’s licence unless the investigation found that Covid-19 laws regarding the organising of events had been breached by the hotel, and gardaí were in a position to make that case to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The investigation into the hotel is described as being at a relatively early stage. Another Garda investigation into the organisers of the event is running in tandem.
Key to those investigations will be whether or not bisecting the seated guests at the dinner by means of a partition would have been sufficient to ensure that the “maximum of 50 persons at an indoor event” Covid regulation in place at the time was adhered to.
In the aftermath of the golfing dinner, political casualties were high, with attendees Dara Calleary and Phil Hogan forced to resign as agriculture minister and EU Trade Commissioner respectively.
It is unclear whether or not the Station House will, or has already, applied for a renewal of its licence.
A spokesperson for the hotel, when asked for comment, said: “We won’t be answering any media queries if that’s alright”.
Renewal of said licences, required for all premises selling alcohol, is the responsibility of the Revenue Commissioners. All such licences come up for renewal on September 30 of each year.
A Garda spokesperson said that any objection to the renewal of a licence is “a matter for the Superintendent in each Garda district”.
The Gardaí do “not have national information in that regard”, they added.