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Gardaí to 'use discretion' after warning alcohol licences may not cover on-street service by pubs and restaurants

The Justice Minister has said that gardaí will act with ‘discretion’ on the issue.

Outdoor dining in Dublin city centre (file photo)
Outdoor dining in Dublin city centre (file photo)
Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

GARDAÍ HAVE WARNED that alcohol licences are not valid for areas outside pubs and restaurants for which they were originally sought – such as new on-street dining sections.

Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys said that gardaí will “use discretion” to ensure that on-street hospitality can continue after reports emerged that the practice may not be legal under the alcohol licensing system.

The Garda guidance came after bars and restaurants across the country rolled out on-street service as part of the re-opening of the hospitality industry earlier this month.

A number of local authorities have closed off streets or narrowed access to vehicular traffic in urban areas in order to allow venues to provide a more extensive outdoor service, with indoor hospitality not expected to return until next month.

However, the Connacht Tribune reported earlier this week that a number of pubs in Galway were warned by gardaí that alcohol can not be served outside their premises.

The newspaper also reported that the matter is set to be discussed at a meeting of Galway City Joint Policing Committee tomorrow night.

In a statement, a Garda spokesperson said that alcohol licences did not apply to on-street areas if a venue had not originally applied to serve alcohol there.

“The management of local public spaces is primarily a matter for the relevant local authority,” the spokesperson said, before noting that licences to sell alcohol are issued by the courts.

“The application for a licence to sell alcohol is accompanied by the lodgement of inter alia a site plan highlighting the specified area to which the licence will apply.

“The licensee is licensed to sell intoxicating liquor to a person to consume the alcohol within that highlighted area only, any other sales are on a take away basis only.”

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The spokesperson also said that where crowds gather, gardaí are required to preserve public order under Covid-19 laws.

“As public health regulations continue to be reduced and activity begins to normalise, An Garda Síochána continues to remind the public of the ongoing public health guidelines, which include not to gather in large groups, maintain social distancing and wearing of face coverings in crowded public spaces,” the statement added.

Guidance issued on the government’s website about the outdoor consumption of alcohol notes that there are “many examples in cities of tables placed outside pubs/restaurants where alcohol is consumed in a roped off area” in accordance with bye-laws. 

In a post on Twitter, Justice Minister Heather Humphreys said gardaí would act with discretion and that “the vast majority of licensed premises are acting responsibly”.

“[Gardaí] will engage with licensed premises and will use their discretion, as they have done throughout Covid,” she added.

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