For the first time ever senior gardaí and Athy Town Council are scrutinising public order and assault statistics in the south Kildare town to see if they are directly linked with late opening hours of takeaway restaurants and pubs.
Last week’s Joint Policing Committee meeting discussed the issue.
“There needs to be a proper balance between people’s needs to make a livelihood and the need of citizens to move about peacefully,” said Cllr James Mahon, who was at the meeting.
He did not rule out a change to licence regulations. “The problem is that there is a congregation of people who have consumed alcohol outside licensed premises and takeways. This is common in all towns. While we need to respect people’s right for a business, we need to respect people’s need for a peaceful environment.”
This latest move by gardaí and the town council has already met with stiff opposition from publicans. Owner and manager of the Immigrant and CI Bar in the town Mark Redmond said if there was an objection to its late pub opening hours he would be “out of business”.
“We obey the law as pub owners. We hire security, we provide entertainment, DJs and bands to the young people of Athy. If it is a thing that there is a problem with late bar opening hours, if there is an objection from the gardai or local authorities, we would lose valuable customers to competitors in towns such as Carlow, Portlaoise and Naas. In the current climate we cannot afford to lose more business.
“We have a good reputation with gardai locally. They have our mobile numbers and normally they ring us to make us aware of problems. We also provide significant employment in Athy, employing 30 people,” he said.
A report including statistics is being prepared for the next JPC meeting in the autumn. Supt Pat Kavanagh noted the overall level of crime in Athy was down in the past 12 months but there was an increase in burglaries, thefts from motor cars and criminal damage.