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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: 1°C
billy lawless

'We've outgrown this dated practice': Bill tabled to open pubs on Good Friday

Irish pubs are an “intrinsic part” of our tourism offering and we should end this practice, said Senator Billy Lawless.

INDEPENDENT SENATOR BILLY Lawless has tabled a bill that would end what he calls the “outdated practice” of closing pubs on Good Friday.

Supported by a range of independent Seanad members including Victor Boyhan, Michael McDowell and Gerard Craughwell, the Intoxicating Liquor (Amendment) Bill 2017 would reverse the obligatory closure of licensed premises every year on Good Friday.

Lawless said that Irish pubs are an “intrinsic part” of our tourism offering and that we’ve outgrown this ban.

“As a modern European nation,” he said, “we have outgrown this dated practice, and I hold this view as a citizen and Oireachtas representative, who respects all traditions and faiths.

We have witnessed and lived through many changes in Ireland, from the abolition of the Holy Hour through to the passing of the Marriage Equality Referendum, and it is now time to amend the liquor licensing legislation in a similar progressive vein.

Lawless added that many Oireachtas colleagues who support the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill were actually in favour of pubs opening on Good Friday.

When the issue has arisen in the past, however, the government has adopted to retain the status quo.

Earlier this month, the two main representative groups for publicans, the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) called on the government to immediately introduce legislation to treat Good Friday as an ordinary trading day for pubs, restaurants and hotels.

Last year, they made a similar call, arguing that there was a particular impetus to lift the ban due to the 1916 centenary celebrations and the Ireland versus Switzerland friendly soccer international.

However, the Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald didn’t budge on the issue and ruled out any changes.

Speaking at the launch of their campaign, Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA said the rationale for a change to the law was compelling.

He said the law hasn’t been changed in 90 years, stating that it is “no longer appropriate for a modern era”.

There is no case for the licensed trade to be treated differently to other retail businesses. Easter is a huge tourism weekend right across the country. Forcing pubs and all licensed hospitality businesses to close sends a very negative signal to tourists and visitors who are left baffled and disappointed by the measure.

Read: Publicans say Good Friday alcohol ban has no place in a modern Ireland

Read: Disappointed? Here’s how Temple Bar tourists felt about the pubs being closed…

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