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Legislation to ensure pubs and restaurants can serve alcohol outdoors to go to Cabinet in the coming days

A number of pubs in Galway were warned by gardaí that alcohol can not be served outside their premises.

The Justice Minster was to consult with the Attorney General about the issues.
The Justice Minster was to consult with the Attorney General about the issues.
Image: Eamonn Farrell

Updated Jun 22nd 2021, 6:00 PM

PRIMARY LEGISLATION WILL be needed to ensure that pubs and restaurants can serve alcohol outdoors, The Journal understands.

The Department of Justice, in consultation with the Department of Housing and the Attorney General’s office, is working on how to provide clarity on the consumption of alcohol in designated areas outside licensed premises.

It is anticipated that primary legislation will be required.

It is understood Justice Minister Heather Humphreys wants this issue to be dealt with as quickly as possible and is expected to bring proposals to Cabinet in the coming days, with the required legislation potentially coming before the Oireachtas next week.

Earlier today, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the government would introduce legislative measures to deal with on-street service by pubs and restaurants not being covered by alcohol licences. 

The Taoiseach’s comments come after a number of pubs in Galway were warned by gardaí that alcohol can not be served outside their premises.

Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys said yesterday that gardaí will “use discretion” to ensure that on-street hospitality can continue but also said that the government “examine whether further measures are required”. 

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Martin said that any issues related to outdoor dining “will be resolved” but that the government’s priority for outdoor services “has worked”. 

“Any issues that need to be resolved will be resolved through a legal instrument, but look there can be no question but that the opening up in terms of outdoor dining and hospitality has worked and has been effective,” he said. 

Martin made the comments in response to questions from Aontú’s Peadar Tóibín TD who said there has been “incredible confusion on our streets” in relation to outdoor hospitality.

He also sought clarity on the legal instrument the government was to prepare. 

The Taoiseach responded: “This is something that has to be dealt with quickly and it will be dealt with quickly and the Minister of Justice will be introducing a measure that will rectify this and regulate it appropriately.”.

teesh Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Source: Oireachtas.ie

Tóibín also said that some pubs and restaurants are waiting for licenses from local authorities and that other pubs and restaurants who have “put out tables and chairs in the hope to make a living” may feel they are not covered by insurance. 

Tóibín also criticised Humphreys comments, saying she has effectively asked gardai to “close their eyes and see nothing”. 

“We have the situation where the minister for making things up as you go along has concocted a solution for the confusion where she is called on the guards to close their eyes and say nothing,” he said. 

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The Taoiseach criticised Tóibín for those comments, labelling them as “hyperbole, a good script writer but not a fair assessment of where we are”. 

“I invite you to come to Cork and have walk down a few streets in Cork and you’ll see some great outdoor dining going on. I was in Dublin yesterday, I called to a number of venues, people were in a very happy mood, dining outdoors having a few drinks outdoors, engaging in a friendly way.”

With reporting by Christina Finn

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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