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Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 6°C
Sasko Lazarov via RollingNews.ie Club goers queueing to get into the Swerve nightclub in Tramline, D'Olier Street, Dublin.
# happy hour again
'Delighted' ... 'badly needed' - Positive early reaction to late-night club opening change
It is intended that the bill be enacted at some stage next year

NIGHT TIME PROMOTERS have spoken of their “delight” following the news licensing rules are to be relaxed and said the proposed plans will make it easier for people to get home after a night out. 

It emerged this morning that nightclubs will now have the option to remain open until 6am, under new proposals that will go before Cabinet today.

While venues will be prohibited from serving alcohol after 5am, dancing will continue until closing time, “subject to strict conditions”.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee will bring forward the proposals in an attempt to “reform Ireland’s antiquated licensing laws”.

The news has been met with joy from campaigners who have been working to change the nation’s “archaic” system for over 15 years. 

Nightclub industry spokesperson, Ian Redmond, said it was a great day.

“Well we started over 15 years trying to get this to happen. We are delighted about this now. We have been trying to get this change for a long time. But what we need now is the abolition of the late night bar extension system which is archaic.

“We have to go to court six weeks in advance to decide what nights to open. We are in court next week to decide when to open.”

Addressing the issues surrounding longer opening times leading to longer periods of drinking and potential anti-social behaviour, Redmond said that the new system will see fewer people spill out onto the streets at the same time.

“One of the biggest problems is trying to get a taxi – two weeks ago I waited an hour €50 in my hand trying to show them I had cash,” he said.

“The more staggered the closing times, the fewer people there are at 3.15am hitting the streets. People will come out later. People who don’t finish work until 12 or the hospitality industry, they want to go dancing with friends.

“I’m not taking away from the drinking problem of the nation – the culture is reducing so we operate a nightclub with dancing and acts and talents – drinking is second to that. I understand the anti-alcohol lobby groups and their concerns – they need to go deeper – they can pick up a bottle and go home and drink it.”

Pubs

In addition to allowing nightclubs to remain open until 6am, other reform measures include standardised opening hours for pubs, with the option to open from 10.30am to 12.30am, seven days a week.

It is intended that the bill be enacted at some stage next year.

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) said the reforms of the licensing laws will make them “fit for the 21st century”.

The LVA said it has been pressing for these reforms for years and believes these were essential to bring Irish alcohol licensing in line with European norms.

“These reforms have been badly needed and much anticipated across the industry,” said Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA.

“Once the revised measures come into effect we will finally have licensing laws fit for the 21st century and for a modern, tourism focused economy.

“In particular, we welcome the Government’s introduction of standardised trading hours for traditional bars and have also heeded our call to abolish the Special Exemption Order system and provide for annual late bar and nightclub permits. This is a critical step in improving the vibrancy of the late night economy.”

The LVA also believes the extension of the times will make it easier for people to get home from a night out.

O’Keeffe added: “It will also be positive for our cities and large towns, especially Dublin, creating an extended period for socialisers to return home, instead of the current concentrated going home time where everyone is trying to get source transport all at the same time.

Hopefully that may also have a positive impact in reducing the level of anti-social behaviour on our streets.

“We are also glad to see the level playing field for pub licences remains under these reforms and that all venues operating must have the approval of the courts and maintain all the other vital regulatory standards. Those regulations are there for a reason and should not be subject to shortcuts.”

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