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New laws on the way to curb the spread of pubs and off licences

Frances Fitzgerald and planning minister Paudie Coffey have agreed a proposal to grant new veto-on-development powers to city and county councils.

30/7/2008 New Off Licence Laws Source: Rollingnews.ie

Updated 3pm

NEW LICENSING LAWS designed to aid city and county councils in curbing the number of off licences that have been appearing nationwide could be on the way.

Justice and planning ministers Frances Fitzgerald and Paudie Coffey have agreed a proposal to grant councils the power to “regulate, restrict or control the development of licensed premises”.

“Pubs, off-licences and nightclubs are a normal feature of any town or city in Ireland,” Fitzgerald said today in a statement.

However, in some towns and cities we are seeing an unsustainable proliferation of off licences along single streets or in historic or tourist areas.
I think it is only right that local councils should have a role in regulating the proliferation of new licensed premises through the development plan process.

30/11/2015 Governments Response on Crime Issues Frances Fitzgerald Source: Mark Stedman/Rollingnews.ie

Urban areas

In essence the new bill would grant to elected councillors the power to to regulate, or curb, planning of new licensed premises such as pubs, off licences, and nightclubs.

The move follows disquiet over the number of off licences that have sprung up in recent times “in certain urban areas”.

The proposal has been drafted by the justice ministry and is included in the Head and General Scheme which forms part of the new Planning and Development Amendment Bill.

Reaction

Reacting to the news from government, Evelyn Jones, director of the National Off Licence Association (NOFFLA) said that, while NOFFLA welcomes the news, it is “important that a differentiation be made between retail outlets specialising in the sale of alcohol and those mixed traders who retail it as part of a broader offering (such as Centra, Spar etc) and as a means to drive footfall to sell other dearer grocery products”.

Evelyn Jones Evelyn Jones

“Unfortunately the current licensing system is a result of changes made in 2000 which deregulated the market and resulted in the increase in licences available for retailing alcohol,” Jones told TheJournal.ie.

In relation to today’s announcement, it is also important to note that it is the job of government to regulate the industry and transferring power to local authorities may lead to local commercial circumstances impacting on the decision to award planning for new licensed premises. 

The legislation is the second alcohol-related reform that the government has announced in as many months.

In December Leo Varadkar announced that he plans to press ahead with minimum alcohol-pricing despite a ruling from the European Court of Justice which suggested that such a move in Scotland could be illegal.

NOFFLA addressed this issue in their response today also, stating that “as responsible retailers, NOFFLA is calling on the government to urgently proceed with and enact the Public Health Alcohol Bill which it has committed to and furthermore we believe that a ban on below invoice cost selling of alcohol should also be included as it will strengthen the protections in place to safeguard the public health”.

We believe these measures will serve as a strong deterrent for the irresponsible retail of alcohol which NOffLA greatly welcomes.

Initially published 14.01

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