· Action necessary now to prepare for post pandemic life
· Minister seeks views on issues such as opening hours, online and delivery sales and licensing processes
· Reforms to build on practices adopted during Covid, such as outdoor dining
The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, has opened a public consultation to seek the views of the public on the modernisation of Ireland’s licensing laws through the proposed Sale of Alcohol Bill.
The consultation will look at how best to update the existing laws governing the sale and regulation of alcohol in Ireland, in line with commitments made in Justice Plan 2021.
The Minister acknowledges that the hospitality industry has been the hardest hit by the pandemic with restrictions still in place for many businesses.
However, the Minister is firmly of the view that planning for life after the pandemic requires continuing work to reform
She intends to enact ambitious licensing reform by the end of 2022 and is now seeking the views of stakeholders and the wider public as work on this reform accelerates in the Department of Justice.
Launching the consultation, Minister McEntee said:
Our pubs, restaurants and nightclubs have experienced huge challenges as we continue to grapple with Covid and the devastating effect it has had on our society and economy.
I know many of these businesses are still struggling but it is hugely important that we prepare for life after the pandemic.
I am committed to enacting alcohol licensing laws that reflect the changing expectations and lifestyles of 21st century Ireland.
We must take a range of views into account and the interests of public health, consumers and communities will be central to these reforms, which will be developed with a supportive approach to businesses.
Any changes in alcohol licensing laws will be balanced with the need for regulation in the public interest – in particular public health and public order.
Setting out what she hopes to achieve with this consultation, the Minister said her Department will strongly consider input from the public when developing this legislation,
I want to hear from stakeholders and members of the public on a range of issues including nightclub and late bar opening hours, trading hours – and whether we need greater regulation of online and delivery sales.
We have also seen many innovations during the pandemic, such as the extension of outdoor dining and I would like to hear the public views on how we can build on these changes.
All responses from the public will be reviewed by my Department to help consider how best to reform our licensing laws.
We will also consider any relevant evidence that members of the public may wish to submit in relation to the impact of current or proposed licensing laws
Overall, the proposed Sale of Alcohol Bill will update and streamline existing alcohol licensing laws into a single Act, making it accessible and user-friendly for the licensed trade, courts, Gardaí and the public.”
Legislation governing the sale, supply and consumption of intoxicating alcohol in licensed premises are set out in the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2018 and in the Registration of Clubs Acts 1904 to 2008.
The objective of the proposed Sale of Alcohol Bill is to repeal the Licensing Acts and the Registration of Clubs Acts and to replace them with updated and streamlined provisions more suited to the 21st century.
It is also the intention to repeal the Public Dance Hall Act 1935.
This consultation will be open from today, November 25, 2021, to close of business on January 21, 2022. Interested individuals, groups and organisations may complete the online survey.
Full details on the consultation can be found at: https://www.justice.ie/en/