A District Court judge gave gardai ten minutes on Monday last to shut down a ‘shebeen’ and threatened to make a report to the Garda Ombudsman if it wasn’t done immediately.
At Edenderry District Court Judge John Coughlan said it was an absolute disgrace that The Long Bar, Edenderry had been trading without a licence, and continued to trade while its owner stood before him.
He ordered gardai to immediately close the premises, and initially threatened to jail the tenant, Michael Iancu, who has been leasing the premises. Last month, also at Edenderry District Court, State Solicitor John Hughes, who was prosecuting Mr Iancu for trading without a licence, asked him to rectify his situation or close his premises for the month long adjournment to yesterday’s court.
He said the pub, which has no licence since 2009, was effectively operating as a shebeen and Judge Catherine Staines expressed her displeasure that Mr Iancu had been trading without a licence. She was particularly unimpressed that he had left court early to open the pub and adjourned the case to March 26 for finalisation.
Yesterday however, Judge Coughlan described Michael Iancu as a guest in this country, and said the first thing he’d done was defraud the Irish taxpayer.
Solicitor Donal Farrelly repeated previous submissions to Judge Staines, that his client, who is looking after two children, is in a dire financial situation.
He said a licence application will be before the court in April, and that Mr Iancu had put him in funds to make the application. In the witness box, after asking the judge to give him a chance to explain himself, Mr Iancu said he’d come to Ireland from Romania via England on a holiday visa fifteen years ago.
Judge Coughlan told him he was illegal, having come through the UK when there was no European agreement between Ireland and Romania, and told Inspector Kieran Keyes that it was “an absolute disgrace that a liquor licence was granted to someone who entered this country illegally.”
However, Mr Iancu insisted that he is legally in Ireland, that he has two children and pays his taxes here. He said his accountant, who was from South Africa has gone missing and in her absence he is trying to manage his accounts.
He accepted that his tax affairs are not in order.
Mr Iancu was also before the court regarding debts to two suppliers, Bulmers and MJ Gleeson.
Mr Farrelly said his client had planned to make an offer to the companies based on his previous trading situation, but said that had changed now. Judge Coughlan adjourned all cases to June ordered gardai to check the legality of Mr Iancu’s status in Ireland.