High Court gives the “bright” green light to Rock Bingo

High Court gives the “bright” green light to Rock Bingo

12 January 2012

Today Mr. Justice Clarke fully reinforced his 9th December ruling that Omega Leisure Ltd trading as Rock Bingo was a lawful enterprise and fully entitled to operate under the lottery licences that it has been operating.

He further clarified that the license on foot of which bingo is conducted by Omega does not have to be issued from the Cork District Court but rather can be issued by any District Court. Furthermore Mr. Justice Clarke gave liberty to Omega Leisure Ltd to issue and serve fresh misfeasance proceedings against Superintendent Charles Barry, seeking damages, on the basis of searches and seizures of the Rock Bingo premises since 9th December 2011, the day that he gave his initial ruling, which declared that Omega Leisure were in fact lawful.

In his judgement, Mr. Justice Clarke stated that any attempt to organise or support opposition to the granting of lottery licences to charitable organisations would be an abuse of the office of a senior member of the Garda Siochana.

He refused to hold that Superintendent Barry was guilty of misfeasance in public office up until his preliminary ruling of the 9th December and stated "A resort to the heavy hand of the criminal process at first instance in such cases of bona fide difference runs a real risk of being deemed disproportionate. The entitlement to place bona fide reliance on the terms of apparently valid court orders is as much the entitlement of the citizen as An Garda Siochana."

Dave Barber, part of the Cork family team who own Omega Leisure stated "We have always operated lawfully and once again I am pleased that this has come through clearly in the court today. Furthermore we are delighted that the treatment of us by Superintendent Charles Barry and the uncalled for interference was acknowledged and we will have an opportunity for proper recourse. We were singled out for specific unfair treatment from the beginning of this project and it appeared at times that there were different versions of the law. It was extremely intimidating and upsetting for all of us and potentially disastrous for our business having systematic visits by Superintendent Barry accompanied by other members of the Gardai on every bingo night. I would like to sincerely thank our legal team Harry McCullagh and Maeve O'Connor and their team of barristers including Dermot Gleeson former Attorney General, Constance Cassidy and Michael McGrath licensing experts for the great work they did on our behalf."

Regarding the future Dave Barber stated "We now need to knuckle down, recover from the disastrous period we have endured to date and get back to running a bingo establishment that the people of Cork can enjoy for many years to come. We would like to invite the many interested Cork charities that had been actively discouraged from becoming beneficiary partners of Rock Bingo to contact us again in the knowledge that they will not be interfered with. It is our sincere wish that the charity proceeds will stay in Cork wherever possible"