Government inaction may lead to death of licensing legislation – LVA & VFI

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) has called on the Government to publish its legislation which aims to reform the licensing laws.

The legislation, which was originally proposed by this Government, has been due for publication for some time. With Dáil Éireann due to go on their summer break on 11th July, there are growing concerns across the night time economy that the Government are trying to mothball their own legislation.

Both the LVA and VFI strongly support many of the key reforms proposed by the Government for inclusion in the legislation aimed at modernising the licensing regime. These include:

– standardisation of opening hours for pubs.

– introduction of an annual late bar permit and annual nightclub permit.

– inclusion of new grounds of objection in line with the national strategy to tackle domestic, sexual and gender-

based violence.

– strengthening the powers of An Garda Síochána to ensure that public safety and public order are maintained.

– to provide that licensing applications move from the Circuit Court to the District Court.

In a letter sent to TDs signed by Donall O’Keeffe, CEO of the LVA and Pat Crotty, CEO of the VFI, they said:

“We understand this legislation is close to finalisation, all that is missing is the Government’s willingness to publish. Taking into account the timeframes remaining in this Oireachtas, we are concerned that failure to publish in the very near future will see the effective death of this legislation through inaction, meaning the Government will effectively be scrapping their own policies. Given the long-promised measures in this legislation aimed at assisting the pub sector, the Government cannot allow this to happen.

“We note the huge level of preparatory work and stakeholder engagement by Minister McEntee and the Dept of Justice in preparing for publication of this Bill, including:

  • Public consultation in Nov 2021.
  • Key Stakeholders Roundtable in March 2022.
  • Publication of 440 pages of the General Scheme of the Sale of Alcohol Bill in Oct 2022.
  • Pre-legislative scrutiny by the Joint Oireachtas Justice Committee Jan 2023.
  • Publication of the Oireachtas Justice Committee Report in March 2023.

“We understand that the Government now intends to separate the Sale of Alcohol Bill into two Bills, with a shorter Billentitled the Intoxicating Liquor Bill 2024 to be introduced first.”

The letter also remarks that some of the recent public commentary on the legislation “has wrongly characterised the proposed nightclub permit as facilitating all pubs being open all night. This will clearly not be the case as the requirements of the nightclub permit are extremely demanding – requirements that we fully support. The overwhelming majority of pubs in Ireland will continue to trade their usual trading hours, and the sector will continue to be tightly regulated. Reform of licensing law is urgently required to facilitate the vibrancy of the night-time economy across the country — it is long overdue.”

 

 

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Government inaction may lead to death of licensing legislation – LVA & VFI