Judge queries Tuam secondary students seeking bar extension for July debs

The vexed question of bar extensions for debs dances came to the fore this week (April 3 ) when a judge used a point of law to postpone the granting of such an extension to allow the hotel explain the situation.

In the District Court in Athlone solicitor for the Radisson Blu hotel on Northgate Street, Athlone, Mr Robert Kelly, applied to Judge Seamus Hughes for 12 late licences on behalf of Ciaran Wallace, receiver at the hotel, stretching to the end of July, which he said were mainly for weddings.

Recalling the 1960s legislation which first made provision for licence extensions, Judge Hughes wondered if this was acceptable for such functions, believing it only applied for dancing.

“There’ll nearly always be dancing at a wedding,” pointed out Mr Kelly.

“Or crawling,” deadpanned the judge, before asking Mr Kelly to clarify the law over lunch.

After consulting the most recently published tome on Irish licensing law, written in 2011, and even speaking to its author, Mr Kelly told the court he still could not be sure whether the law legislated for different types of functions.

He pointed out that not all of the 2am extensions applied for by the hotel were for weddings, and that one was for a graduation ball for the Presentation College from Tuam - made famous in the song by The Saw Doctors - on July 24 which piqued the judge’s interest.

“A graduation dance? That’s young people. What age?” he asked.

“Judge, you must be in sixth year to attend graduation,” said Mr Kelly.

“I’m concerned about this, Mr Kelly. If a new drug was invented tomorrow and they called it ‘Drink’ we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” said Judge Hughes.

To allow for clarification, the judge granted Mr Kelly’s client the first of the 12 licence extensions they had applied for, but adjourned the remainder - including the Tuam debs - for a week to allow the manager of the hotel come to court and give evidence.

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