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THE MORNING LEAD

Almost half of people think allowing nightclubs to stay open until 6am is a bad idea

The Cabinet approved legislation last month that would allow nightclubs to stay open until 6am.

MORE THAN HALF of people think the new move to allow pubs to stay open until 12.30am every night is a good idea, while almost half of people think allowing clubs to stay open until 6am every night is a bad idea, according to a new poll.

The Cabinet approved legislation last month that would allow pubs to open from 10.30am to 12.30am, seven days a week, while nightclubs can remain open until 6am.

Venues will be prohibited from serving alcohol after 5am, but dancing can continue for another hour.

Opening hours for late bars will remain at 2.30am, while a new later bar permit will be required.

If the legislation is passed by the Oireachtas, the changes are likely to be enacted next year.

An opinion poll carried out for The Journal by Red C Research has found that 57% of people think pubs being allowed to stay open until 12.30am, seven nights a week, is a good idea. 19% of people think it’s a bad idea, while 22% are neutral and 2% don’t know. 

The poll shows the public have a somewhat different opinion of the later opening hours for nightclubs. 

It found that just 31% of people think clubs being allowed to stay open until 6am, seven nights a week, is a good idea. 47% of people think it’s a bad idea, while 19% are neutral and 3% don’t know. 

Age groups

There is some disparities when it comes to age groups polled.

When asked about their attitude towards pubs being allowed to stay open until 12.30am, 71% of people aged 18-34 said it is a good idea, while just 42% of people aged 55+ think it’s a good idea. 

When asked about the later nightclub opening hours, 43% of people aged 18-34 think it’s a good idea and just 18% of people aged 55+ think it’s a good idea. 

33% of people aged 18-34 think the later nightclub opening hours is a bad idea, compared with 62% of people aged 55+. 

It’s understood that the nightclub permits will largely be availed of by bigger nightclubs and venues, mainly in cities, and will not be availed of by many nightclubs.

Licenses can only be granted by the courts, with objections allowed from the HSE, fire authorities, the gardaí and local authorities. Local people with a genuine interest may also object to the granting or renewal of a licence. 

Premises will be required to have CCTV on the premises and security staff that are properly accredited. Nightclubs must also have 20% of their floor allocated for dancing, a live band or DJ must be playing. 

Reaction

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) last month warned that the extension of alcohol licensing laws is a “regressive and harmful” move that runs contrary to the Government’s stated goal of reducing alcohol intake by 20%.

The organisation accused the Government of not having a coherent policy on alcohol.

Dr Anne Dee, chair of the Public Health Committee of the IMO, said that the move was “inexplicable” in the current climate.

“This Government does not have a coherent policy on alcohol,” she said. “It makes no sense that, on one hand, it is looking to extend alcohol licensing laws while on the other, it is also looking to reduce alcohol consumption by 20%.

“This move is, at best, not thought through and, at worst, regressive and ultimately harmful.

“Alcohol is an extremely dangerous drug which causes huge amounts of direct and indirect harm every day.

“There is no justification for extending licensing laws given its harmful impact on people’s health. The last thing we need is to increase people’s exposure to it.”

Justice Minister Helen McEntee, who is bringing forward the proposals, said last month that “unfortunately, we have seen the numbers of nightclubs in Ireland reduce significantly in recent years”.

“Some estimates have suggested that we only have 80 nightclubs, down from over 500 20 years ago, to 300 in 2009 and only 80 today,” McEntee said. 

She also said the industry is “dying on its feet”. 

The idea of later opening hours for nightclubs was first floated by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar back in 2019, when he told The Journal that he believed the laws needed to be reformed and brought more in line with other cities in Europe.

Speaking last month, Varadkar said alcohol consumption has been falling in Ireland, per capita. 

“I don’t think these changes will lead to an increase in alcohol consumption. Nobody can say that for sure. But my hope is that it won’t. It will see people drinking perhaps more in a controlled environment like in a pub or restaurant rather than drinking heavily at home,” he said.

With reporting by Diarmuid Pepper, Christina Finn and Press Association

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