Popular Donegal bar fined €500 after Gardai raid Christmas Eve lock-in

November 15, 2023

A Donegal publican has been fined after a bus load of Christmas Eve partygoers were found ready to join around 100 revellers who were found on his premises.

Gardai arrived at Teac Bhillie on Main Street, Gortahork at 2.05am on December 24, 2022.

Garda Suzanne Gordon and colleagues were on patrol in the area when they noticed a bus parked outside Teac Bhillie and people standing outside.

Inspector Seamus McGonigle told Falcarragh District Court that Garda Gordon spoke to the persons on the bus and they were ‘actually arriving to gain entry’. “They could hear loud music inside,” Inspector McGonigle said.

The court heard that Whoriskey told Gardai that they were ‘just closing’. When Garda Gordon entered via the front door of the premises, she observed a DJ playing music and around 100 patrons described by Inspector McGonigle as ‘dancing, singing and high spirits’.

Staff were observed behind the bar counter. Inspector McGonigle told the court that Whoriskey was asked for his licence as it wasn’t displayed, but he was unable to produce it.

Ms Deirdre Gallagher, solicitor for Whoriskey, said the premises was ‘extremely busy’ on the night in question. Ms Gallagher said the arrival of the bus at the pub was beyond the control of her client.

“He contacted local buses and taxis to collect the patrols,” Ms Gallagher said, adding that Whoriskey was in possession of a restaurant licence. “He was fully cooperative and did attempt to clear the premises as soon as possible.”

Ms Gallagher said staff advised that they were attempting to clear the area and collect glasses at the time.

Whoriskey, who has no relevant previous convictions, was charged with six counts contrary to the intoxicating liquor act.

On one of the charges, Judge Éiteáin Cunningham, after rising to consider the matter, fined Whoriskey €500 and allowed five months to pay. The other charges were marked as taken into consideration by Judge Cunningham.