The Leader of Seanad Éireann said that many businesses have faced huge challenges due to Covid-19 and some cannot afford to pay the fee of €500 to acquire this annual licence.
Separate to alcohol licences, the Public Dance Halls Act 1935 requires that a licence be held by premises where “dancing which is open to the public and in which persons present are entitled to participate actively”.
The annual licence-acquiring process involves making an application to the District Court which costs a premises upwards of €500 when combined with a music and singing licence.
“The hospitality sector has been absolutely hammered this year and expecting businesses to be able to pay such a fee when they are just getting back on their feet is totally unreasonable,” Senator Doherty said,
“In my local pub, Swans of Curragha, not a single jig has been danced or pint poured since the 15th of March. For small businesses like this, €500 is a huge sum right now.
“It’s not just nightclubs that are required to hold such a licence. Small rural pubs, GAA Clubs, late bars, community centres, hotels and many more around the country hold such licences.
“The whole sector has been shut down since early March, so they should now be given an extension to all licences of at least six months.”
She suggested that a change may be needed to the Public Dance Halls Act which came into law in 1935.
“The way people, especially young people, enjoy nights out and dancing now has changed drastically,” she added, “This Act doesn’t give any further entitlements to a bar- or club-owner with respect to the serving of alcohol or opening times, it’s simply required if people are allowed to dance.
“Once clubs and bars can re-open properly when safe to do so, a licence to dance should be the last thing they need. After a tough few months, we should all be able to ‘dance the night away’ with or without a licence,” she concluded.