Off-trade On-trade

Licensing laws now fit for 21st Century – LVA

Justice Minister Helen McEntee is bringing a memo to Cabinet this morning seeking to modernise and simplify the country’s 200-year-old licensing laws comprising a disparate assortment of some 100 different pieces of legislation via the Sale of Alcohol Bill.

 

Among the changes proposed in the new Sale Bill are that pubs will be able to serve alcohol until 12.30am every weeknight and that nightclubs will be able to stay open until 6am with Last Orders at 5am.

Among the changes proposed in the new Sale Bill are that pubs will be able to serve alcohol until 12.30am every weeknight and that nightclubs will be able to stay open until 6am with Last Orders at 5am.

Among the changes proposed in the new Sale of Alcohol Bill are that pubs will be able to serve alcohol from 10.30am until 12.30am every night and that nightclubs will be able to stay open until 6am with Last Orders at 5am.

Under the new proposals late bars will be able to remain open to 2.30am all week via a new Late Bar Permit.

The Licensed Vintners Association has stated that the reform of the licensing laws will make them “fit for the 21st Century” having pressed for these reforms for years. The Association believes they were essential to bring Irish alcohol licensing in line with European norms.

“These reforms have been badly needed and much anticipated across the industry,” said LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe, “Once the revised measures come into effect we will finally have licensing laws fit for the 21st Century and for a modern, tourism-focused economy.

“In particular, we welcome the Government’s introduction of standardised trading hours for traditional bars and it has also heeded our call to abolish the Special Exemption Order system and provide for annual late bar and nightclub permits. This is a critical step in improving the vibrancy of the late-night economy.

“The LVA has long emphasised to Government and the relevant tourism agencies how out of sync the existing closing times have been with public expectations and behaviours. The simple fact is that there is a demand out there for late-night socialising and for nightclubs to operate for longer hours. This is what happens in other cities across Europe and what’s expected from modern nightlife.

“Despite Irish pubs and hospitality being internationally renowned the relatively early closing times have seemed out-of-step with both foreign and domestic expectations. Thankfully this is now set to change. This will create further opportunities for our nightclubs and late-night venues, creating a platform for Irish nightlife to expand its offering and to further enhance our late-night culture.

“It will also be positive for our cities and large towns, especially Dublin, creating an extended period for socialisers to return home instead of the current concentrated going home time where everyone is trying to source transport all at the same time. Hopefully, that may also have a positive impact in reducing the level of anti-social behaviour on our streets.

“It was also essential that we brought a more modern approach to general opening hours for pubs,” he continued, “They should be standardised and not influenced by specific days of the week. Thankfully that is also being addressed under these reforms which will come as a relief to pubs all across the country.

“We are also glad to see the level playing field for pub licences remains under these reforms and that all venues operating must have the approval of the courts and maintain all the other vital regulatory standards.

“Those regulations are there for a reason and should not be subject to shortcuts. We look forward to the implementation of these reforms and will work with the Department, the Government and the various tourism and hospitality bodies to help ensure rapid introduction of this much-needed legislation,” he concluded.

The Bill has the potential to radically alter how the pub trade operates in this country and a proper analysis of its content is required before the Vintners Federation of Ireland would comment further.

“However, from initial soundings, it’s fair to state there’s huge concern within the trade about elements of the Bill,” the VFI told Drinks Industry Ireland, concluding,  “We’ll engage with Government at the earliest opportunity, once our analysis of the Bill is complete.”

It will also consult with its membership about the next steps.

Under the Minister’s proposals opening times for off-trade sales of alcohol will also be extended such that these will be permitted to take place from 10.30am to 10pm Monday to Saturday, with supermarkets and independent off-licences now allowed open from 10.30am on Sundays rather than their current 12.30 opening time.

The Justice Minister hopes to enact the legislation next year once approved by Cabinet.

 

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