Ireland bars

Ireland plans to extend closing times for pubs and nightclubs

In Ireland, the justice minister, Helen McEntee introduced the Justice Plan 2021 on February 22, including staggered and extended closing times for pubs and nightclubs, as well as a new annual permit to allow clubs to stay open past 2:30 AM.

McEntee’s plan contains around 200 measures, dedicated to support the hospitality sector after the severe consequences they had to face due to the COVID-19 lockdown. She stated:

“I fully acknowledge that we are talking about this at a time when much of that industry is closed. […] “What I want to say very clearly to that industry is that when you get back on your feet, we are going to be there to support you.” She added: “We have fantastic musicians, artists, DJs, promoters and people working in this industry who are going to need more supports when Covid-19 finishes and that is what this legislation is about.”

Although the plans are yet to be finalised, the news has been warmly welcomed already by the nightlife community, who have been fighting for years to reform and repeal the archaic licensing laws, some of which dating back to 1935. According to current laws in Ireland, pubs and venues which open later have to apply for a Special Exemption Orders from the District Court on the basis that they are holding a special occasion. In 2008, the government raised the cost of holding such events from €220 to €410, putting a massive financial burden on many venues and promoters. If a new annual permit is introduced, it’ll replace the current system of requesting expensive SEOs with annual nightclub permits. It will also make it easier for theatres, galleries and other cultural venues to sell alcohol, besides the reforms will modernize the application process for alcohol licenses.

Dublin-based DJ and Give Us The Night campaigner Sunil Sharpe told Resident Advisor:

“Changes to our licensing laws and closing times are many years coming […] I think the extent of the changes is now going to be more ambitious given the pressure all entertainment and hospitality businesses are under. The stars have aligned in ways, and no one deserves this more than our sector. What the government did to our club scene in 2008 was outrageous, it crippled the industry, but now in the midst of the worst point ever for the industry and club scene, there is a bit more hope for how we’ll return […] The last similar announcement, that didn’t go nearly as far as hers and never led to anything either, was over 15 years ago. The fact that we will most likely see an end to the 1935 Public Dance Halls Act, too, is very important to our campaign. It’s hard to express how much that means to all of us here. It’s an infamous piece of legislation that has hurt music culture in Ireland through many generations.”



Photo by Leonhard Niederwimmer on Unsplash