Home > Report of the Night-Time Economy Taskforce.

Doyle, Anne (2022) Report of the Night-Time Economy Taskforce. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 80, Winter 2022, pp. 15-16.

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The Report of the Night-Time Economy Taskforce was published in September 2021 in response to a sector badly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.1 Pubs, clubs, and other businesses dependent on the night-time economy closed for long periods of time in response to national and regional lockdowns. This report is a result of collaboration from a range of Government Departments and agencies whose remit covers aspects of the night-time economy. These include the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media; the Lord Mayors of Dublin and Cork; the Department of Justice; the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications; the Department of Transport; the Department of Rural and Community Development; the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage; the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; the National Transport Authority; An Garda Síochána; Fáilte Ireland, and more. An intensive stakeholder engagement process with relevant sectors and interested parties with a role in the sector also contributed to the contents of the report.

Recommendations to revive the sector

In the report, a range of actions (36 in total) is recommended in order to revive the sector, defined as ‘the diverse social, cultural and economic activity occurring during specified evening and night-time hours’ (6 pm to 6 am) (p. 8). The recommendations include encouraging diversity and inclusivity, modernising licensing laws, creating a strong sense of safety, creating new and dynamic structures to develop vibrant and tailor-made local night-time economies, among others, but ultimately to maintain supports for the night-time economy as it makes the journey out of Covid-19 restrictions.

Key challenges and recommendations from the report were to extend opening hours in the national cultural institutions, to use more existing venues for late-night use, and to encourage more outdoor activities. Existing licensing arrangements are referred to several times in the report as a key challenge for the sector, and recommendations are made to modernise and streamline licensing arrangements and application processes to help businesses selling alcohol to grow and potentially diversify. By reforming liquor licensing, the taskforce believes that it will make it easier for cultural venues such as theatres, galleries, and exhibition spaces to get licences. Thus, the range of night-time and cultural offerings can be broadened and diversified.

Sale of Alcohol Bill

The taskforce welcomed the proposed Sale of Alcohol Bill governing Ireland’s licensing laws that was expected to be published in 2021 and indeed was shortly after the report’s publication. The Bill intends to modernise and update Ireland’s licensing laws, thereby supporting the night-time economy. The Bill aims to repeal the Licensing Acts and the Registration of Clubs Acts in their entirety and to replace them with updated and streamlined provisions more suited to the 21st century. Key reforms will include:

  • New proposed licences: The Department of Justice will work with stakeholders to develop these new licences but they will include arrangements for catering, guesthouses, and nightclubs.
  • Nightclubs and late bars: There will be annual permits for nightclubs and late bars, rather than the existing process of having to apply for special exemption orders.
  • Trading hours: There will be an examination of trading hours for alcohol sales for consumption on premises but also in off-licences to order to streamline the processes; there will be provision for more appropriate extensions as part of the reformed licensing package; and trading hours, particularly on a Sunday, will also be examined.
  • Modernising application systems: The application system will be modernised, reducing costs for businesses and reducing pressure on the Courts system. It is the intention of this legislative reform to significantly reduce Court appearances.

The taskforce expects that the proposed amendments in the Bill will encourage diversity and new economic opportunities in the night-time economy. In the interim, the taskforce proposes the abolition of the special exemption orders process.

Alcohol-free venues

The taskforce highlights that in its endeavour to revive the sector it should not mean an increase in antisocial behaviour or misuse of alcohol and/or misuse of drugs. The consultation process raised the importance of the provision of alcohol-free venues; recommendations are therefore made for more venues and cultural activities that do not involve the sale of alcohol to be encouraged and supported, particularly café culture.

Other recommendations

Other challenges and recommendations in the taskforce report include:

  • There should be enhancement and use of the public realm, that is, innovative use of public open spaces, including supporting and incentivising businesses to open late.
  • Noise regulation, an inevitable knock-on effect of a vibrant night-time economy, should be considered. A noise regulatory review should be undertaken to consider the most effective approach to addressing this issue.
  • The public event permit application process should be standardised for events involving less than 5,000 people and which falls outside the realm of the Planning Acts.
  • A pilot project of night-time economy advisors and night-time economy committees in six cities/towns across Ireland should be established.
  • The issue of safety at night was also raised throughout the consultation process. Safeguards should be put in place to protect women and other vulnerable people engaged in night-time economy activities. Community safety partnerships and joint policing committees should include night-time economy issues in their operations, and best practice safety campaigns for promoting across businesses operating in the night-time economy throughout the country should be implemented.
  • Public transport also features as an essential support for the sector. New 24-hour routes in Dublin City and additional transport services in rural areas should be established.
  • Short and longer (post Covid-19) actions should support the night-time economy sector, including funding to support extended hours of opening of cultural institutions in the short term and longer term, recognising the importance of solutions and ideas coming from the ground up with interventions to stimulate night-time economy activity being based on the needs of the town/city area identified.


Further consultations with key stakeholders, Government Departments, and agencies are required to address the wide range of challenges and opportunities associated with the night-time economy. A representative implementation group will be established to review progress on the recommendations contained in the report. 

1. Night-Time Economy Taskforce (2021) Report of the Night-Time Economy Taskforce. Dublin: Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/34846/


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