"A feature of our findings is that all premises carried notices, prominently displayed, stating drink would not be sold to persons under the age of 18,” the Chief Superintendent told the Committee, "The biggest difficulty, it seems, is creating awareness among staff on the imperative of demanding proper identification and if in doubt ask for ID.”
Some of the eight premises have already been prosecuted and premises have been closed for specified periods while the Gardai have stated that they’re preparing for court in other cases.
The Fianna Fáil Spokesman on Justice Niall Collins described the operation as "very worthwhile" and has called for similar endeavours to be rolled out to fight under-age consumption. ?"The message has to be driven home that the sale of drink to young people is totally unacceptable and those who do so must face the consequences," he stated, "We have called on the HSE to attend our next meeting so we can get their perspective of the problem. I also feel I would call on the new junior minister at the Department of Health Alex White to press ahead as a matter of urgency the work of his predecessor, Róisín Shortall, in dealing with the minimum price situation regarding alcohol."
The vast majority of detections were in retail outlets, most notably franchise operations with an off-licence facility, he told Drinks Industry Ireland subsequently.
In each case he’d noted that the detections indicated a lack of awareness and training amongst the staff in the outlets concerned, despite there being notices setting out the legislation on alcohol sales in the stores.
However while most of the pubs visited in the operation had been “above board”, some on-trade activities were cause for concern, he said.
“A number of licences would have been taken up by lesees who try to make the biggest killing that they can,” he stated, “And as it takes us the bones of two years to get the case to court, it’s sometimes too late and the lessee has gone.”
As a result, local Gardai in Limerick have come up with a new model for clamping down on illegal trading in pubs and they will be stepping up the detection of offences such as adults purchasing alcohol for minors or publicans fluctuating drinks prices during the day or during sports fixtures, for example.
“We’re going after lesees who’re in for the ‘quick kill’,” he explained to Drinks Industry Ireland, “The night-time economy and late bars are one segment, then there’s the pricing fluctuations at sporting events, for example, where prices are changed when the first goal’s scored.
“Another area we’re looking at down here is in respect of registered clubs where what’s happening is that they’re being let out to people who were in the bar trade before and who’re running it as a pub, not a club.”
He would also be looking at ‘bucket selling’ for stag nights where one can buy 10 longneck bottles in a bucket for a certain price.
“We’re trying to get the model right in the context of the present licensed trade,” he explained, adding that new bye-laws had made drinking in public illegal now.