BEN SCALLAN: With violent criminals at large, Gardaí harass pub owners over lack of burgers

To date, 165 pubs across Ireland have been placed under Garda investigation for selling alcohol without providing food to their customers.

Entitled “Operation Navigation”, the police have been scouring the country’s pubs since July, and have carried out thousands of investigations so far.

The Garda Headquarters has announced that files on each of the various offending pubs are being created so that they can later be passed on to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who will then determine whether or not the law has been broken. 

Regarding the conduct of pubs, Deputy Commissioner John Twomey said: “Unfortunately, there are still some that are putting their employees, their customers and their local community at risk of getting Covid-19.”

It should also be kept in mind that just selling any food isn’t even enough – the food you are selling must be a “substantial meal”, as per HSE guidelines, and must be sold for no less than €9. Not €8, not €8.50. It’s vitally important that it costs nine euro specifically. And if it doesn’t, you can expect a visit from the Gardaí – to stop a deadly Chinese virus, or something.

Now, to those of us who are reasonable, this sounds shocking. One would assume that choosing not to serve food at your own pub is a personal decision that any business-owner would be free to make in a sane, reasonable country. But that assumption would be a mistake – the people making these decisions don’t appear reasonable.

Why else would we be launching an entire nationwide police operation to enforce the sale of chips? What does this have to do with the novel coronavirus or its spread? Which person on earth is this operation helping? The measure is about as useful as a trap-door in a canoe. You’d be hard pressed to think of a more impressive squandering of valuable resources if you tried. Maybe gold-plated lamborghini bumper-cars as an Olympic sport would be more frivolous, but just barely. 

This entire situation is compacted by the fact that, while all this is going on, there appears to be little to no effort to catch actual violent criminals at large in the country, like the apparent groups of organised pedophiles who are violently abusing underage girls in hotels, as covered on Gript this week.

We have reports of ISIS training camps in the Wicklow Mountains, increasingly violent gangs in Dublin warring over territory, and human trafficking operations taking root around the nation.

And yet while all these extreme threats to our society linger like a malignant tumour, apparently the Garda top-brass think our boys in blue should be scouring the country with their nightsticks hunting down buffalo mozzarella paninis (or the lack thereof).

How anyone in the government expects these lockdown guidelines to be taken seriously is a profound mystery.

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