Political row erupts after saloon gets a last chance
The granting of an entertainment licence for a pub in Dungiven has sparked a row in Limavady, leading one councillor to question the level of support for the police from Sinn Fein and the SDLP.
Limavady Council’s Environmental Services officers recommended that the licence be refused for Ban Joe’s Bar in Main Street in Dungiven on the grounds that police had raised objections about a “blatant disregard of licensing legislation” despite “court sanctions having been imposed”.
These objections were coupled with the department's own findings that the bar had flouted the terms of the current entertainment licence, citing that “no system was in place to monitor the numbers of persons being admitted to the premises and live entertainment was ongoing beyond the licensing hours stipulated on the entertainment licence”.
Despite the objections from the police and the council officers, the SDLP and Sinn Fein voted to grant the licence — which has outraged committee chairman Leslie Cubitt.
“Questions need to be asked about the level of support Sinn Fein and the SDLP have for the police when they failed to back the police recommendations about the granting of a licence for this Dungiven pub,” he said.
“Either they support the police or they don't. It's not good enough to just say you back law and order but when push comes to shove and the police make a set of recommendations, the SDLP and Sinn Fein refuse to back the police and even refuse to back the recommendations of their own council officers.”
The SDLP's Michael Coyle said that while it may appear that his party went against the police and council officers, the reality was that their decision was about saving jobs.
“Our party's support for the police in Limavady stands for itself and is beyond question, and while we are not saying that the objections to granting an entertainment licence for this pub were not real, all we did was give one last chance to this pub to get its act together,” he said.
“There are 12 people employed in this bar and we had to think about their jobs, but the owner of this saloon should be under no illusion that this really is the last chance.”
Councillor Cathal O hOisin refuted any suggestion Sinn Fein was in disagreement with the police.
He added: “At the end of the day, our council officers will now have to look at the granting of this entertainment licence again if there is a breach and if the police have an issue with the liquor licence then that is a matter for the court.
“I think Councillor Cubitt is being a bit quick off the mark.”