Steps being taken to modernise licensing laws, says Minister for Justice

Steps Being Taken To Modernise Licensing Laws, Says Minister For Justice Steps Being Taken To Modernise Licensing Laws, Says Minister For Justice
Darren Cusack, barman at Mulligan's in Poolbeg Street, Dublin, pours a pint of Guinness as indoor dining in pubs and restaurants have reopened across Ireland, marking a significant step for the hospitality sector. Picture date: Monday July 26, 2021.
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Olivia Kelleher

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has initiated a public consultation on licensing laws in Ireland which will look at how best to modernise existing laws on the sale and regulation of alcohol in Ireland.

In an interview on the RTÉ News at One, Ms McEntee said she was seeking feedback on a variety of issues.

"There are a number of things here. At the outset I am really conscious that the hospitality sector [and] the nighttime economy have gone through an absolutely awful time over the last 18 months," Ms McEntee said.

"They are the sector that has been impacted the most by this pandemic, but I am also conscious that my role as Minister is not just to deal with the here and now.

"Government is obviously focused on the here and now. 'How can we support this sector?' But I am also planning for the future," she added.


"The fact of the matter is that this sector [is] dealing with law that is outdated."

According to Ms McEntee, the law that dates back to 1833.

"We have the Dancehalls Act of 1935 that is being referred to, and I think we would all agree that the dance halls of the thirties are a lot different to the nighttime economy of now."

"We are looking at a number of things to streamline and modernise those laws."

Opening hours

Minister McEntee said that she hopes to make the system easier for businesses.

"So for example some late bars have to apply and pretend essentially that they are having a late event or special event, and we know that event is every night they are open because that is the type of licence they have to apply under because it is the only one that exists.

"So how do we streamline a process for businesses that are already open and operating and make it easier for them? How do we look at new options that may be available in terms of new offerings?

"We are probably one of the few capitals in the world where everything closes at the same time."

"You don't have a huge suite of options available to people. We are also looking at adding an extra layer of governance around online drinking, so we don't have 12 or 13-year-olds able to order alcohol online."

She added that she is very conscious of the public health element to any changes.

"People assume it is longer drinking hours and later opening hours. That is not the case. But we do of course have to take into account the concerns that arise with potential changes either to opening hours or to people accessing licences.

"There is a perception that we are talking about every place opening until 6am and that is not the case. It will all be regulated. It won't be a free for all. "

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