News

Publicans to challenge Good Friday booze ban

NewsBy Colm Hayes
Publicans to challenge Good Friday booze ban

Pub owners are once again fighting to get boozers open on Good Friday, as they aim to cash in on Ireland’s March 25 soccer clash against Switzerland.

Vintners claim that the ban on selling drink is outdated, while they hope to use the precedent of a special exemption for a rugby match in Limerick in 2010 to force the Government’s hand in the matter.

However, with an election imminent there are just weeks left to amend laws to allow pubs to open their doors on one of only two days in the year when these establishments traditionally keep their doors shut.

The Licensed Vintners Association and the Vintners Federation of Ireland called on the Government to reverse the archaic ban.

LVA Chief Donall O’Keeffe revealed the association has been provided with legal advice which suggested it would be a straightforward reform which would have to be passed by the Oireachtas.

"Every Good Friday we have thousands of tourists wandering around the streets of our cities and towns asking why they can’t go into a pub for a drink," he said.

"Those numbers will be boosted this year because of the Easter 2016 celebrations. We are also going to have up to 50,000 soccer fans in Dublin facing the same problem outside the stadium."

Supporters inside the stadium for the friendly tie against Switzerland will be able to purchase alcohol, the pubs surrounding the Aviva will be closed for business.

Other viable options for people looking to go out for a drink on the holy day include taking the train, going to the greyhound track at Harold’s Cross, hopping on a ferry out of the country or booking a flight abroad.

The vintners also say they have been lobbying Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald since 2014 but so far no results have been achieved.

Mr O’Keeffe added: "It would be ridiculous if the entire hospitality sector was again forced to close on Good Friday 2016 because of a law passed in 1927."

The VFI claims that the State loses out on a €6million tax haul due to the ban.

CEO Padraig Cribben said: "The Government previously indicated that Good Friday trading would be permitted in the context of the Sale of Alcohol Bill but so far nothing has happened.

"Most other retail businesses are open and trading, so why is the licensed trade being treated differently?

"We know many consumers have a drink at home on Good Friday but they should have the option to go out for one if they so choose. For example this year there are hundreds of thousands of fans around the country who may well want to watch the soccer match on television in their local pubs."