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Extending nightclub opening hours to be considered in consultation on alcohol licensing laws

Currently, restrictions are in place requiring pubs, restaurants and nightclubs to have a closing time of midnight.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

A PUBLIC CONSULTATION has been launched today to gather views from stakeholders and the public on modernising Ireland’s alcohol licensing laws.

Members of the public are being asked to submit their views on updating the existing laws, including the extension of opening times for nightclubs and bars.

Launching the consultation, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said that action on Ireland’s licensing laws was a necessary step in preparing for life post-pandemic.

McEntee said that the hospitality industry had been among those most affected over the course of the pandemic.

“Our pubs, restaurants and nightclubs have experienced huge challenges as we continue to grapple with Covid and the devastating effect it has had on our society and economy,” she said.

The consultation is aimed at updating existing laws on the sale and regulation of alcohol.

“I am committed to enacting alcohol licensing laws that reflect the changing expectations and lifestyles of 21st century Ireland,” the minister said.

Among the possible reforms to be considered include the opening hours for nightclubs and bars, trading hours and the regulation of online and delivery sales.

It is also hoped that the reforms will build upon practices implemented by the hospitality industry during the pandemic, such as outdoor dining.

In 2019, then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar stated that Ireland’s licensing laws need to be reformed and brought more in line with other cities in Europe.

He added that some tourists that come to Irish cities, who have experienced the nightlife in other European cities abroad, say that Irish nightlife “can be disappointing”.

Stakeholders in the nightlife industry have frequently called on the government to reform Ireland’s current licensing laws. The loss of venues and cultural spaces in Dublin has highlighted the need for such reforms.

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Although some members of the public may have concerns that extended opening hours of pubs and nightclubs could lead to anti-social behaviour.

The licensing reforms are planned to be enacted by the end of 2022. The consultation will close to the public on 21 January, 2022.

Currently, restrictions are in place requiring pubs, restaurants and nightclubs to have a closing time of midnight.

The move came following increasing concerns about the pressure being put on hospitals as a result of the spread of Covid-19 and less than a month after nightclubs had reopened following a 19-month closure.

Reacting to the news that pub opening hours were to be cut back earlier this month, the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) called on the government to immediately reintroduce Covid supports for the late night sector.

Contains reporting from Christina Finn.

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