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pubs and clubs

Taoiseach unsure if laws allowing nightclubs to stay open later will be ready in time for summer

Varadkar said he has been “pressing” the Justice Minister to make progress on the reforms.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has cast doubt over whether reforms to late licensing laws will be in place in time to allow pubs and clubs to stay open later this summer, as previously hoped. 

It had been expected that the changes, which will allow nightclubs to open until 6am and pubs to open until 12.30am, would be in place before Christmas but complications with updating the laws have significantly delayed the process

Varadkar said he would like to see the legislation in place as soon as possible but that he does not know if it will be done by the summer. 

“It’s something I’ve been pressing Minister McEntee to make progress on,” he told reporters yesterday in Bucharest.

“As Minister McEntee points out, she has many priorities and more important priorities than opening nightclubs late perhaps, but she is working on it,” Varadkar added. 

The Taoiseach said he expects that the legislation will be published in the next couple of months and “certainly” before the summer Dáil recess. 

“Whether it gets through or not is up to the Dáil and Seanad as much as it is up to the Government but we will have the legislation ready,” he said. 

The changes were first floated by the Taoiseach in 2019.  As reported by The Journal at the time, it came after pressure from stakeholders in the nightlife industry who called for opening hours to be modernised.

At the time, some said there had been a rapid loss of venues and creative spaces in the capital in particular.

Speaking yesterday, the Taoiseach said the change is needed so that Irish cities and towns have the same kind of nightlife as “pretty much every other European country”.

He added: “But it’s not going to be a huge number of licenses. I wouldn’t like to create the impression that alcohol will be widely available in every pub, hotel and nightclub until well into the early hours of the morning. That’s not the case.

“We want to be able to have venues and nightlife like you’d see here in Bucharest or Berlin or London or Barcelona or Lisbon or any other European city Irish people have experience of and wonder why we can’t have that in our country.”

Public order

The Taoiseach said from a policing and public order perspective, it could be helpful to have people leaving venues on a more staggered basis as opposed to “everyone emptying out on the streets in a very short window of time” as currently is the case.

He added that gardaí believe spreading people out over a longer period of time could help in terms of taxis and perhaps people “getting out late enough to use public transport early in the morning at 6am”.

Some of the laws that are to be reformed date back to the 19th century, while two thirds of the laws predate the foundation of the State 100 years ago. Due to the volume of changes required to overhaul the existing laws, two separate pieces of legislation are required. 

While the proposed legislation looks to deal with opening hours, it will also includes measures around granting of licences by the courts, the purchasing of licences, as well as the sale of alcohol online. 

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