Staff fled Dublin restaurant when inspector came to check work permits 

Staff fled from a Dublin restaurant when an inspector arrived to check work permits, Dublin District Court has heard. 
Al Hamza Food Ltd, trading as Bar BQ Tonight on Lower Clanbrassil Street, pleaded guilty on Thursday to breaching the Employment Permits Act and Organisation of Working Time Act. 
 
Workplace Relations Commission inspector Mary Harte told Judge Anthony Halpin she visited the restaurant on November 8th last to check work permits. She was told the owner was not present but called him on the phone stating her intention to interview staff. 
 
A number of employees left on her arrival before she had an opportunity to talk to them, she said. 
 
Ms Harte returned in January in a joint operation involving the commission, officers from the Garda National Immigration Bureau and Revenue inspectors. 
 
Two Afghan workers in the restaurant did not have employment permits and relevant documents could not be provided, the court heard. 
 
Regularise 
Ms Harte agreed with defence solicitor Peter Connolly that the restaurant had no prior convictions. He said the prosecution has helped the restaurant company to regularise its position and that the owner regretted the offences. 
 
The solicitor said Bar BQ Tonight has nine workers, two of whom are Irish, and there would be no contraventions of the rules in future. 
 
Mr Connolly pleaded for leniency and said a recorded conviction could cause difficulties for a restaurant specialising in ethnic food. 
 
Judge Halpin noted the guilty plea and genuine remorse expressed. He accepted there was a specialist nature to this type of cooking but added that workers without permits were vulnerable. 
 
He said he would spare the restaurant a recorded conviction by applying the Probation of Offenders Act if the owners donated €500 to the Little Flower Penny Dinners charity . He said the restaurant would otherwise be fined €1,500 and have a record for the offence. 
 
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