Panti Bar donates €750 to cancer charity for breaking smoking ban
PANTI Bar, one of the country's best-known gay venues, donated €750 to a cancer charity yesterday after pleading guilty to breaking the smoking ban.
Pantibar Ltd, the operators of the popular bar in Dublin's Capel Street - which is run by gay rights activist and drag performer Rory O'Neill, better-known as Panti Bliss - was prosecuted by the HSE following an inspection by an environmental health officer.
The company pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to breaking smoking ban regulations and having a cigarette vending machine on the premises while not being registered to sell tobacco products.
Environmental health officer Claire Wilde told Judge John O'Neill that she went to the bar at about 9.30pm last October 23.
There were a number of people using the smoking area, which was indoors, the court heard. An exemption exists if the smoking area is an outdoor part of a premises, she said.
There were no "No smoking" signs on display and the bar had an unregistered cigarette vending machine at the time, the HSE officer said.
The court heard that the signage problem has been rectified, the establishment is now registered to sell tobacco and renovation work is being carried out on the smoking area.
The defence counsel said the venue was a gay bar and smokers had to go out on to the street and they were "getting interference from passers-by".
The bar "did not want to put patrons in danger's way".
They provided the smoking area so "patrons would not be at risk from passers-by on the street".
The company, which has no prior convictions, apologised and asked the court for an opportunity to donate money to a cancer charity.
Company director Jay Bourke was in court and gave an undertaking that tobacco would not be sold in the premises for the next month.
Judge O'Neill applied the Probation Offenders Act, sparing the company a conviction, after Mr Bourke complied with an order to donate €750 which will go to the Conquer Cancer charity.
Pantibar Ltd also agreed to cover the costs of the prosecution.