Counter Culture / February 22, 2021

Nightlife: Opening hours to be extended and new licenses introduced

Club Comfort by Faolan Carey
Counter Culture / February 22, 2021

Nightlife: Opening hours to be extended and new licenses introduced

New proposals from the Minister for Justice would be a welcome boost to the country’s nightlife in a post-pandemic world.

Over the weekend, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee announced that she’d be unveiling her justice plan for 2021. Notably, it includes a potential revision of the current archaic licensing laws.

It’s no secret that the global pandemic has crippled the nighttime industry and with no clear return date for clubs, Minister McEntee is keen to propose new changes for a post-covid Ireland.

It comes after years of campaigning from Give Us The Night to preserve a nighttime industry in the capital that was already on its knees before the global pandemic.

Under the new proposals, opening hours for nightclubs would be extended beyond 02.30 and a dedicated nightclub permit will replace pricy special exemption orders that are currently needed for later opening hours. Moreover, there will be new categories of alcohol licences for different venues such as museums and theatres, whilst special events licences will be made available for one-off occasions like weddings.

The good news for pubs is that Sunday opening hours could potentially be extended to match the rest of the week and staggered closing times elsewhere will prevent a bottleneck squeeze of people all making their way onto the streets at the same time.

In the new plan revealed by Minister McEntee it states:

“Over the course of our Plan, we will modernise our licencing laws to support the development of the night-time economy so our cities can take their place among the cultural capitals of the world.”

“Our cultural and hospitality sectors have been among the worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. But these sectors will revive and we 19 Action Plan 2021 – Strategic Priorities & Initiatives will introduce reforms to support the development and regulation of the night-time economy, including through modernised licensing laws.”

Minister McEntee continued, saying, “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.”

Founder of Give Us The Night Sunil Sharpe spoke on News talk Breakfast this morning and said, “I think, where a nightclub is not causing disturbance to neighbours, I believe they should be able to fix their own times”.

“But we are also realistic. It will take a long time to change the mindset in Ireland.”

“I don’t want to put a figure on it but I do feel that, in a city like Dublin – in fact in many areas where it is a good operator and no problems are being caused – I don’t see why a nightclub can’t go to 5am or 6am.”

“I have seen the likes of Dublin and Ireland change a lot over the last couple of decades.”

“The scenes we used to see in the early 2000s and that kind of time when people would be faceplanted into Dame Street and where alcohol was a much greater problem, it is not to say that that type of behaviour has disappeared but I think we have improved.”

“I think it’s more orderly at night and that is a testament to how Gardai have been managing the streets at night as well.”

Read the full Justice Plan 2021 here.