happy hours MLAs to debate extending licensing hours for pubs in Northern Ireland to 2am
The new laws, if passed, will reform licensing laws around Easter
MLAs are today voting on whether to reform Northern Ireland's licensing laws.
The new laws will allow pubs to serve alcohol until 2am at weekends.
It would also reform the licensing laws which currently enforce strict restrictions at Easter.
Currently, pubs can only sell alcohol until midnight on Easter Thursday and Easter Saturday while alcohol must only be served between 5pm and 11pm on Good Friday.
It is thought the new laws could come into force by October if they are passed by Stormont this month.
The changes, which were first proposed eight years ago, will mark an end of the current licensing laws which are 25 years old.
One of the proposals being put forward is that cinemas should also be allowed to sell alcohol on their premises.
Colin Neill of Hospitality Ulster said he welcomed the debate on the new "tantalisingly close" laws.
He added: "We recognise alcohol is a controlled substance and needs to be treated as such, we haven't come asking for 24-hour drinking like England or deregulation, this is about looking at what the customer wants and actually modernising it."
He also said Northern Ireland should be able to provide longer drinking hours "particularly with tourists visiting here as well".
TUV leader, Jim Allister, said he will oppose some of the proposals because he believes extended opening hours will result in "increased pressure on police and health services".
He said with serving hours extended until 2 AM, and with an extended drinking up time of one hour, "you're taking closing time up to 3am, it is the last thing our city streets and A&E teams need".
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