The reform of our licensing laws will benefit the hospitality sector and provide flexibility for businesses by streamlining the application process, according to Fine Gael TD Alan Dillon.
Deputy Dillon, Fine Gael’s Dáil spokesperson for Tourism & Sport, said: “Standardising Sunday trading hours by bringing it into line with the rest of the week for pubs and off-licences is positive and is something which representative groups have campaigned for.
“Extending trading hours, which is subject to a strict licensing system and open to objections, will help sustain the viability of businesses and secure jobs particularly in rural communities while at the same recognising changing lifestyle and work/life patterns.
“This has been a standard approach adopted in many other European countries and gives people and performers more choice about how, when and where they socialise.
“Work on the development of our night-time economy got underway in the last Government by my colleague, Josepha Madigan, when she was Minister for Heritage and Culture through the establishment of a taskforce to examine various issues.
“Fine Gael wants to create stronger, safer communities and we have an ambitious plan for Rural Ireland aimed at breathing life into towns and villages and bringing derelict and vacant buildings back into use.
“Modernising the operation of our hospitality sector is one such way of increasing footfall and attracting more patrons and visitors into our towns and villages.
“Proposals to reduce the total number of licences from 36 to 20 will also further cut red tape and streamline regulation and is another measure which will be welcomed by businesses.
“The draft Bill published today strikes a balance in ensuring that Ireland will maintain a restrictive licensing system in general, with licenses only granted by the courts – with objections allowed from fire authorities, the HSE, An Garda Síochána and local communities.
“A representative of a local authority and local people with a genuine interest may also object to the granting or renewal of a licence.
“There may be some concern about the changes from a public health perspective, but the legislation aims to maintain strict controls and safeguards while supporting our night-time culture and economy.
“I believe young people are a lot more educated in the use of alcohol and potential impact it may have on health. Alcohol manufacturers are also coming up with innovative solutions in the products that they are offering,” Deputy Dillon concluded.