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Any change to pub opening hours would need to be considered 'very, very carefully', says minister

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said nightclub and pub opening hours need to be reformed and brought more in line with other cities in Europe.

Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

HEALTH MINISTER SIMON Harris has said any change to Ireland’s licensing laws would need to be considered “very, very carefully”. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told TheJournal.ie last week that nightclub and pub opening hours need to be reformed and brought more in line with other cities in Europe. 

Varadkar said the laws are “really archaic”, and stated that he does not believe extending opening hours would lead to anti-social behaviour. 

When asked if the Taoiseach’s comments flew in the face of new health legislation Harris is championing, the health minister said he did not believe it was mix messaging. 

“I think the point that he was making is that we do have licensing laws in our country that seem to be very restrictive particularly in our capital, compared to other European capitals and I think he’s making the point that when people come here sometimes perhaps they are surprised at the early closing times of some of our nighttime establishments,” he said.

Harris added:

I think that’s a different point to the Public Health Alcohol Act, which is really a point about protecting children and younger people from the drinks culture in Ireland and a culture that I think is a dangerous culture, and one that needs to change.

The new legislation aims to reduce the exposure of children to advertisements featuring alcohol products. 

Alcohol advertising in or on public service vehicles, at public transport stops or stations, and within 200 metres of a school, creche, or local authority playground are also prohibited. 

Cinemas are prohibited from advertising alcohol except around films with an 18 age classification and all children’s clothing that promotes alcohol is also banned. 

Harris said the legislation – which also seeks to ban the sale of cheap alcohol – took over 1,000 days to pass through the Houses of the Oireachtas. 

“So no, I don’t necessarily think the two are incompatible, but I think it’s something [changing the licensing laws] would need to be considered very, very carefully. And again, it’s something that I’m not sure every publican would be in favor of,” he said, stating that such changes could mean significant cost increases for publicans as well as , difficulties with staff. 

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