As a result of the meeting INIA Chief Executive Barry O’Sullivan believes that the Minister sees the need for a reform of late night licensing and the need for the introduction of a nightclub permit to introduce extended hours and a meaningful window of trading for nightclubs over and above late-night bars.
Indeed, nightclubs have been arguing for a two-hour time differential since 1998, stated Barry O’Sullivan.
“The later you go, the more you should pay, is accepted by our members” he told Drinks Industry Ireland, “provided they get this period in which to recoup the SEO costs.”
However the challenge in the immediate or short term is to try to get the cost of the SEO itself down plus all the costs that go with it.
“Even since the 2008 Act the cost of getting a public dancing licence has increased as have associated regulated costs,” he pointed out, adding, “There’s no reason SEOs couldn’t be done Quarterly with all the attendant solicitors fees.”
The Association also welcomed the Minister’s support for the introduction of measures to make the current SEO system more transparent in an effort to provide compliance in the area and it looks forward to engaging with him on the “reforms to the licensing laws and the introduction of a nightclub permit, permitting Sequential Closing via a meaningful time differential between nightclubs and other late night venues”.
However time is of the essence and Barry O’Sullivan warned that, “If all the reforms we discussed are attached to the Sale of Alcohol Bill (which realistically means they are 18 months away at best) the current trend of closures, job losses and liquidations will mean that by the time the reforms are implemented, the Irish nightclub industry will be seriously diminished”.
Those nightclubs still in existence report trading almost 40 per cent less frequently last year than in 2007 while trading nights have had to be reduced from 4.2 to 2.7 with the loss of 600 full-time equivalent jobs, he added.