An ‘unwritten agreement’ between late-night pubs in Galway and the Gardai had formerly meant that venues that had paid the €440 Special Exemption Order fee for the night were allowed stay open until 2am.
This agreement allowed late-night bars go from a 1am close to a 2am closing time for a period of years. But all this has come to an end with a number of inspections to city centre pubs in recent weeks to check that they fully complied with the licensing laws in relation to opening hours and late-night exemptions during the week.
Not surprisingly, the clampdown is causing disquiet among some publicans and the VFI’s Terry Tyson of the Rockbarton Hotel and two representatives of other areas of the town (one of them a local councilor) held a meeting with Sergeant Brendan Moore who notified them of certain concerns that the Gardai had in this area.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to help them deal with these concerns,” Terry told Drinks Industry Ireland.
Late bars require a SEO applied for through the local courts ermitting them to close at 1am with half-an-hour drinking-up time during the week in Galway.
For the month of August, all such licences have already been applied and paid for, so publicans will have no choice but to restrict their opening times to 1am and somehow try to recoup their expenses on the night, said Terry Tyson, “Unless we can come up with an arrangement where we can get an extra half-hour or 40 minutes during the week; it will be difficult ‘though”.
The strict adherence to the 1am closing time during the week will “definitely have a small effect such that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights are not going to be too great,” he added.
Another publican, who did not want to be named, warned of possible closures and job losses and told the Galway Advertiser, “We have had to put all the staff on notice”. He added that the enforcement of the 1am closing time will be especially disastrous when students return to Galway’s third level colleges next month.
“They won’t leave the house,” he predicted, “Students will just have house parties and there will be an unsupervised rag week through every housing estate in Galway.”
An online petition was also launched against the enforcement of the earlier closing time which gathered some 2,000 signatures shortly after going live and now runs at around 4,000.
However Galway’s late night bars continue to be allowed to close at 2am on Friday and Saturday nights.