Bar exemptions for festival granted despite opposition

Judge Conal Gibbons granted bar exemptions for pubs in Roscommon town during this weekend’s RosFest, despite an objection from the PRO of the Roscommon branch of People with Disabilities Ireland, at last Friday’s sitting of the local district court.             The application for bar extensions on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights was made by Morgan Fehily on behalf of local publicans and the objection was made by Michael Treacy of Kilteevan, PRO of the local PWDI branch. There was no Garda objection to the application.             Mr. Treacy told the court that he represented people with disabilities and he was objecting to the granting of the exemptions because festival organisers bring a lorry into the Square, blocking the four disabled parking spaces.             Judge Gibbons pointed out that he was dealing with a licensing matter and had no jurisdiction over whether or not a festival should be held. Mr. Treacy said that he was objecting to the extension of the pub opening hours because it was inconveniencing disabled people. He asked if publicans earning money was more important than disabled people.             The Judge said that Mr. Treacy was looking for relief that the court couldn’t give him, but pointed out that there are other methods open to Mr. Treacy in the courts to deal with this. ‘I thought you were going to tell me that there was unruly behaviour and there are legitimate views that people should not be drinking between 12.30 am and 2 am,’ said the Judge.             Mr. Treacy was asked by the judge if he had written to the organising committee of the festival and Mr. Treacy replied that he hadn’t. Solicitor for Mr. Fehily, Ms. Marie McManus, said that her client was aware of Mr. Treacy’s views and four temporary disabled spaces had been marked out.             Judge Gibbons said that it wasn’t up to him to decide whether the Square should be blocked with a truck. Mr. Treacy said that he was disappointed with the Judge’s view and said ‘I can bring an injunction against the festival.’             Concluding, Judge Gibbons praised Mr. Treacy for coming to court. ‘You are right, if you feel you have a legitimate grievance, to come in here. All I can say is that in my experience of business people and publicans, I can’t imagine any publican that would seek to impede or cause any discomfort to a disabled person.’             Mr. Treacy, who has a disabled daughter, said, ‘The whole thing about the festival is that money comes before disabled people. Disabled people don’t have a lot and it’s important that they get to town on a Friday or Saturday. Last year it was 3 pm on Tuesday before they took the lorry out.’ He added that the replacement spaces are not adequate, because the driver’s door opens out into the traffic.             The court was told that Mr. Fehily had spoken to Mary Ganley, and Margaret Burke in Derrane Resource Centre about the matter and had also spoke to the County Engineer. Mr. Fehily gave evidence of meeting with the County Engineer and putting in place arrangements for four alternative disabled spaces. ‘We take this very seriously, the whole issue of disabled parking. We like to do things right,’ said Mr. Fehily. ‘I contacted the people I felt needed to be contacted, such as Mary Ganley, Chairperson of the Wheelchair Association in Roscommon, and the County Engineer. I don’t known what else more I can do,’ said Mr. Fehily.             ‘The arrangements that have been put in place seem to be quite appropriate,’ said Judge Gibbons, before granting the application.