COUNCILLORS CONTINUE TO OPPOSE GAMBLING OUTLETS
All six Councillors in the Carrickmacross-Castleblayney Municipal District have again highlighted their opposition to a proposed private members gaming club in Carrickmacross. A fortnight ago planners in Monaghan County Council put on hold an application by Carrick Gold Mine Ltd to set up a private gaming club in a vacant commercial unit off Main Street, beside the car park at the rear of the Shopping Centre at Drummond Etra.
The applicants said the proposed use of the premises would be for a professionally managed Private Members Gaming Club. It would provide card games like Baccarat and other games like Texas Holdem etc “for groups of dedicated card players”. It would the Club’s intention to have weekly Poker tournaments, some of which would be for local sports teams and associations, according to the letter. The club’s facilities would be open to members only, who must be over eighteen.
Planning officials have requested additional information about a number of aspects and have given the applicants six months to reply to the Council.
The March meeting of the Municipal District Council held in Carrickmacross and chaired by Cllr Jackie Crowe heard from District Co-Ordinator Cathal Flynn that because of a loophole in current legislation, there was nothing the District Council could do to prevent the operation of such a club, if the application was approved. Councillor Padraig McNally asked for Standing Orders to be suspended so that he could ask a question seeking additional information, following last month’s decision to write to the Minister for Justice, asking for local authorities to be able to introduce bye-laws that would prohibit gaming facilities, including gaming clubs. He was told that the Council had received a letter from the office of the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald T.D., last week. It informed Councillors that the government had approved the general scheme of the Gambling Control Bill in July 2013. The scheme was currently with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, awaiting legal drafting. A copy has been made available on the Department’s website. The letter, signed by the Minister’s Private Secretary, said that upon enactment of this proposed legislation, the Minister would assume the sole regulatory function as relates to all forms of gambling, with the exception of the National Lottery. It was not possible to indicate at this point when the Bill is likely to be published, according to the Minister’s Office.
Councillor McNally said this letter should be circulated to local Deputies and they should be asked to help speed up the process of bringing the Bill through the Dáil, so as to ensure this planning application would come under the remit of any new gambling legislation.
His party colleague Councillor PJ O’Hanlon said they would do everything in their power through the Council to stop such private members clubs. As public representatives they had a role and a function to represent the views of people on the ground.
Councillor Colm Carthy said a number of local businesses and residents in Carrickmacross had already been in contact with Oireachtas members and they would push the issue to try to get it resolved. Councillor Noel Keelan said their aim should be to try to close the planning loophole concerning private members gaming clubs. Councillor McNally proposed and Councillor O’Hanlon seconded a motion, which was passed unanimously:
“That this Authority writes to our local TDs to ensure the speedy passage of legislation in Dáil Éireann and to seek their support for measures to stop such gambling outlets from receiving consent for planning authorities and court services”.