PUBS COULD be set to benefit from extended Sunday opening hours as part of major new reforms of Ireland’s alcohol licensing laws.
Under the changes, pubs would have free rein to continue serving until 12:30am on Sundays.
Nightclubs could also be allowed to stay open beyond the 2:30am curfew previous in place.
The changes are just one part of proposals being discussed by the Irish Government in an attempt to provide a much-needed boost to the ailing sector.
Justice Minister Helen McEntee is putting together the new legislation as part of a long-awaited reform Ireland’s restrictive licensing laws.
The changes could also see cultural venues like art galleries and other exhibition spaces given more of an opportunity to gain a licence to sell alcohol.
Under the plans, amenity licences could be granted to sporting arenas, airports, trains and race courses.
Nightclubs will also no longer be required to apply for special exemption orders which previously allowed them to stay open longer than pubs at a cost of €400 per venue.
The plans are part of an effort to help pubs, nightclubs and other venues bounce back from the prolonged period of closure that has come about as a result of Covid-19.
McEntee said: “Our pub, hospitality and cultural sectors are an intrinsic part of our social fabric but have been hardest hit by the pandemic, with many not opening their doors for a year.
“As part of my plan to build a justice system that works for everyone I want to support these businesses as they get back on their feet but, as we plan how our economy and society will look after the pandemic, I also believe we need to broaden the range of cultural offerings available in the night-time economy.”
She added: “We must make it easier for venues, galleries, exhibition spaces and ‘pop-up’ events to thrive and ensure we have a vibrant and safe night time economy.”
Pubs could also benefit from staggered and extended closing times under the proposals.
The plans have been welcomed by Give Us The Night, a campaign group set up to modernise Ireland’s nightlife, welcomed the news.
“We know the future still seems very uncertain, but we hope you all might feel a little happier to see that change is really on the way for Irish nightlife,” they said.
"Still some way to go, and many issues to be fully addressed within the new bill, but we’re getting there.”
The proposals are being put forward as part of the General Scheme of a Bill to reform licensing in Ireland, which is one of over 200 actions in McEntee’s Justice Plan 2021.
It comes during a weekend in which Taoiseach Micheal Martin admitted the Government would not consider re-opening pubs before mid-summer, at the earliest.