Judge considers jail for bar manager who flouts licensing laws

January 19, 2021

A Judge has asked Gardai to investigate if a jail sentence is an option for a bar manager who continues to flout licensing laws in Buncrana.

The manager of Dinny Grant’s Bar on the town’s Main Street, Mark Scanlon, appeared at Buncrana District Court charged with selling alcohol after hours.

The court heard the bar continued to break the licensing laws before Covid struck and held an unfair advantage over other local pubs.

Scanlon, aged 53 of Rockdale, Buncrana, who runs the bar, has a number of similar convictions as does its owner, Jason Donaghy (48) of Ballymagan in the town.

Defending solicitor, Mr Ciaran MacLochlainn, said Donaghy lives in the UK and isn’t fully aware of Scanlon’s management practices.

Garda Inspector, Shaun Grant, told the court that gardai were checking local hostelries at around 1.05 am on July 22, 2019, when they noticed the front door of Dinny Grant’s ‘lying open.’

Inside, a number of customers were drinking while others were leaving for home.

Less than a month later, on August 12, gardai noticed that the lights were on in
the same bar and there was ‘a lot of noise coming from inside’ at around 12:45 am. On entering, they found 30 people on the premises.

When asked for a copy of the last till receipt, Scanlon became ‘hostile’ towards them.

The court heard that Scanlon’s last conviction was in late 2019 while Donaghy was last convicted in 2008.

Mr MacLochlainn, solicitor, said Donaghy lives in the UK and that Scanlon is paid on a shared profit basis and, as a result, the latter ‘pushes the boat out a bit.’

“Mr Donaghy is going to rearrange his agreement with Scanlon for the running of the bar because he fears it could jeopardise his drinks licence,” Mr MacLochlainn added.

Judge Kelly said he was concerned about the effect of Scanlon’s behaviour.

“Publicans who are compliant are suffering because people like Scanlon are not complying with the law. This is not a victimless crime,” the judge said.

He proceeded to convict and fine Scanlon and Donaghy €700 each for one count of allowing the sale of drink after hours on each date and proceeded to strike out the remaining charges.

However, Judge Kelly asked Inspector Grant to investigate whether or not a custodial
sentence was an option in Scanlon’s case.

The Inspector replied that he wasn’t sure, but that there may be ‘issues’ for Donaghy when he comes back before the court to apply for his licence renewal.


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