Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has insisted that the extension of opening hours for pubs and nightclubs was neccessary to save an industry “dying on its feet”.
Yesterday, plans were announced to swap Ireland’s archaic alcohol laws with modern regulations, known as the Sale of Alcohol Bill.
Such proposals are to see pubs open from 10-30am to 12-30am, seven days a week. Late bars are to also operate from 2-30am each night.
Apart from Christmas Day, party goers will be able to boogie the night away in nightclubs until 6am each night. This will include the requirement that alcohol will stop being served at 5am.
“protect our pubs”
According to the Justice Minister, it was necessary to implement these new policies in order to “protect our pubs”.
“The very fact that we had back 20 years ago 500 nightclubs, in 2009 that went down to 300 and today there is only 80 – I think that shows there is a significant cause to try and support this sector”, said Helen McEntee.
“Many of us have been to many events and places that have since closed. They are not reopening”, she continued. “This is a sector that really is dying on its feet”.
“I listened to the sector and in order to be able to attract the larger events, DJs and acts – we need to make sure that there is appropriate timing and the ability to do so”.
“So that’s why I’m proposing that nightclubs would have the option to open until 6am”.
“I don’t believe it will”
These increased opening hours have also raised concerns regarding the potential health impacts on the country.
However, such concerns were played down by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.
“Alcohol consumption in Ireland has been trending downwards in recent years. It doesn’t go down every year but it has been trending downwards in recent years”, Varadkar said.
“That is down to an ageing population. It’s down to changing attitudes towards alcohol and it’s also down to a lot of the laws we brought in whether it’s road traffic laws or the Public Health Alcohol Act”.
“It will see people drinking perhaps more in a controlled environment like the pub, nightclub or restaurants rather than drinking heavily at home. That would be what I anticipate will happen”.
“Also, in the round I think it will be beneficial from a public safety point of view because instead of everyone emptying out onto the streets at the same time because of the pub licence, late bar licence and nightclub licence you will see that being much more staggered”.