No alcohol means no alcohol, especially on Good Friday as nine Galway city centre restaurants found out after they were summoned to appear at Galway District Court this week.
However, the prosecution of restaurants for serving alcohol with meals on this holy day was described as “ludricrous” by Judge Mary Fahy who decided not to record a conviction.
All nine accused pleaded guilty to one charge of having intoxicating liquor exposed for sale in their premises on March 21, 2008, a date which was prohibited for that purpose, namely Good Friday. The first case to be heard was that of Michael O’Grady, of Kirwan’s Lane Restaurant. Inspector Michael O’Dwyer told the court that on the date in question Sgt John Ryan had been passing the restaurant when he observed people inside and a bottle of wine on the table.
“This is a restaurant. Are they not permitted to have wine with their meal?” asked Judge Fahy in disbelief.
The Inspector informed her that as it was Good Friday restaurants are entitled to open but not to sell alcohol.
“Technically, you are correct, Inspector, but it’s ludricrous,” replied Judge Fahy who added that she was not “advocating pubs to open” on this day but it was her belief that “restaurants should be different”. She said that she was “not happy to record a conviction”.
Also before the court were: Callanway Ltd, 11 Inchagoill Road, Newcastle, owners of Gemelle’s Restaurant, Quay Street; Galway Taverns Ltd, 15 High Street, Galway, owners of Malt House Restaurant; L’Autre Javas Ltd, 2 High Street, owner of L’Autre Javas Restaurant, Quay Street; David Hallissy, owner of O’Riordan’s Restaurant, 7 Quay Street; Camilla Cutlar of Druid Lane Restaurant, Quay Street; Martine McDonagh of Martine’s Restaurant, Quay Street; E J King’s Bar Ltd, Clifden, Galway, owners of Kirby’s Restaurant, Cross Street; and Marco Magnetti, Aille, Barna, Galway, owner of Trattoria Restaurant in Quay Street.
“It seems that every restaurant in Galway is here,” said Judge Fahy who later noted that this was the first year that she has seen this type of prosecution.
One defence solicitor told the court that it was an “anomoly” in the law which stated that it was lawful for a hotel to serve wine on Good Friday but not restaurants, even if patrons were having a meal.
Refusing to record a conviction, Judge Fahy instead marked the facts in all the cases as proven and taken into account.