HSE pursued closed pub over smoking ban infringement

Former proprietor of Limerick pub The Bitter End, Declan Dillon, escaped a fine recently when found guilty of breaching the smoking ban. The case was taken by the HSE against the pub’s former owner under the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2002 and a 2004 amendment to this Act.

Following a HSE inspection of the pub’s smoking area on 31st March this year a roof was found to be in breach of smoking legislation and HSE representative Aisling Carr told the court that the smoking area would have been allowable if there had been no walls in at least 50 per cent of the structure.

However as the premises had subsequently been closed and sold on, Declan Dillon maintains that the HSE’s pursuing  his conviction was a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Nevertheless he pleaded guilty to two charges but stated that the pub’s designated smoking area was “like many others in Limerick”.

After hearing that he had no previous convictions, Judge Eamonn O’Brien let him off with a warning rather than the statutory fine and applied the Probation Act.

“I’m giving you a chance,” he warned him, striking out the same charges against The Bitter End Ltd, “If you’re in here again I’ll apply a fine of €3,000.”

Afterwards, Declan Dillon stated, “The HSE took the case on this designated smoking area which they said wasn’t compliant, which is fine. It probably wasn’t compliant to the full extent of the law, but there’s a lot of smoking premises in town that aren’t fully compliant. We closed the premises down in late May and I informed the HSE that I had received a summons and that we were closed down and what was the point in wasting the court’s time and legal money and everything with this?

“I spoke to the HSE up as far as last Friday and they told me that they weren’t dropping the case, that they were proceeding with it, which in my opinion is a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.”

The HSE now faces a legal bill of €1,096 for the case.

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