A District Court judge has ordered the immediate closure of a charity shop and soup kitchen in Co Sligo which have allegedly been operating in the town illegally.

The order arises out of the first prosecution to be taken under the Charites Act.

Oliver Williams, who set up The Twist soup kitchen and associated charity shop in Sligo, is accused of breaching the act by failing to register them as charities. 

Solicitor for Mr Williams Tom MacSharry applied to have the case adjourned but Barrister Donal Keane for the Charites Regulator objected and said his client had serious concerns about the operation.

Mr Keane said that as long as the two premises remain open, further offences are being committed and unsuspecting people in Sligo are handing over money to an unregulated charity. 

Mr Williams told the court that the soup kitchen feeds 40 people every day in Sligo and its only income is from the charity shop.

He said the shop makes about €200 to €250 a week which covers the weekly rent of each premises. He said if the shop closes then there is no money for the soup kitchen. 

Judge Kilraine questioned Mr Williams in relation to the finances of the shop and was told that it was all done on a cash basis and receipts were only given for bigger items like furniture. He said it was a shoestring operation and there was never any excess.

Judge Kilraine said that the only way he would grant an adjournment would be on the basis that both operations would be closed forthwith.

He said that nothing short of tight regulation and oversight is acceptable.

Mr MacSharry said he was simply fighting for the soup kitchen which was a necessary part of the fabric in Sligo.

Judge Kilraine said he was ordering it to close with reluctance but he expected that the St Vincent de Paul Society would step in to fill the gap.

The judge adjourned the case for a week.