Proposed Overhaul Of Laws For Drinks Venues Could Extend Opening Times

By Dave Simpson
Proposed Overhaul Of Laws For Drinks Venues Could Extend Opening Times

A proposed major overhaul of licencing laws for drinks venues in Ireland could allow pubs, bars, nightclubs and off-licences to open longer and make it easier for cultural venues such as theatres and galleries to sell alcohol.

As reported by The Irish Independent, minister for justice Helen McEntee is planning new legislation this year that would replace Ireland's current licencing laws for drinks venues as part of plans to revitalise the country's night-time economy when the COVID-19 crisis ends.

McEntee wants to make it easier for theatres, galleries and exhibition spaces to acquire alcohol licences so that Ireland's range of night-time and cultural offerings can be expanded.

New amenity licences could be introduced for venues at which selling alcohol is considered ancillary to the main activity such as the aforementioned cultural venues as well as sports venues, airports and trains.

McEntee is examining the possibility of repealing the Licensing Acts, the Registration of Clubs Acts and the 1935 Dancehall Acts as well as reforms to alcohol sale laws, including staggering and extended closing times for pubs, bars and nightclubs. To open later, such venues currently require special exemption from the District Court on the basis that they are hosting a special occasion, but a new proposal could result in such venues being able to obtain annual nightclub permits.


McEntee will also examine longer opening hours as part of this process because the nightclub sector has said that longer opening hours are necessary to cater for changing lifestyles and tourists.

Pub, bar and off-licence trading hour reforms will be examined as well, and could bring Sunday trading hours for such venues into line with those of the rest of the week.

The potential reforms could also result in the application process for alcohol licences being modernised and streamlined.

The District Court would take over the responsibility for new on-licence applications from the Circuit Court.

The proposed overhaul of licencing laws for drinks venues is part of McEntee's Justice Plan 2021, which contains over 200 actions and reforms.


"An Intrinsic Part Of Our Social Fabric"

The Irish Independent quotes McEntee as saying, "Our pub, hospitality and cultural sectors are an intrinsic part of our social fabric but have been hardest hit by the pandemic, with many not opening their doors for a year.

"As part of my plan to build a justice system that works for everyone, I want to help and support these businesses as they get back on their feet. But, as we plan how our economy and society will look after the pandemic, I also believe we need to broaden the range of cultural offerings available in the night-time economy.

"We must make it easier for venues, galleries, exhibition spaces and 'pop-up' events to thrive and ensure we have a vibrant and safe night-time economy."

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