Home > Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 863 – Alcohol sales [54732/22].

[Oireachtas] Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 863 – Alcohol sales [54732/22]. (08 Nov 2022)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2022...

863. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Justice if she has engaged with the taxi sector in relation to the reform of the opening hours of pubs and nightclubs, considering the important role taxis play in the night-time economy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54732/22]

Minister for Justice: Helen McEntee

Following extensive consultation with representative bodies in the licensed trade, businesses, public health bodies, consumers and communities, the General Scheme of the Sale of Alcohol Bill was published on the 25th of October. It marks the Government’s commitment to the reform and streamlining of licensing laws to support and stimulate the night time economy.

The present system is based on a patchwork of 100 laws - some of which are almost 200 years old and two thirds of which pre-date the foundation of the State 100 years ago.

The General Scheme of the bill proposes to modernise permitted opening hours, in line with the expectations and needs of today’s society and encourage the development of a modern and diverse night-time economy. The General Scheme of the bill also intends to streamline the licensing system and provide for a more transparent, user-friendly application process.

Given the known social and health effects associated with misuse of alcohol, Ireland has, for many decades, operated a restrictive regime for licencing. The General Scheme of the bill retains proposes to retain that approach and will ensure that the sale of alcohol remains closely regulated.

The Minister recognises the importance of ensuring that the voices of local communities are heard during the licencing process. The General Scheme of the Sale of Alcohol Bill makes provisions for objections to be raised in court to the renewal of a retail licence by any person with a substantial or bona fide interest in the matter and is resident in the neighbourhood. It will be possible to object on a number of grounds, including a new category that the premises were not operated in a manner which protects staff, patrons and performers from harassment, including sexual harassment. This is in line with the Zero Tolerance plan to tackle domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

Ultimately, the proposed legislation strikes a balance between maintaining strict controls and safeguards while providing much needed support to those involved in our night time culture and economy.

The public consultation process which ran between 25 November 2021 and 21 January 2022 invited and received submissions from a wide range of sectors, including the taxi sector.

The Night Time Economy Taskforce, which included the participation of the Department of Justice, the Department of Transport and the National Transport Authority, addressed issues relating to transport provision and its report specifically recognised the provision of transport as an essential support to the Night time economy.

Pre-legislative scrutiny will provide an opportunity for the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice to engage with sectoral groups, including those representing transport bodies, should it so wish.

Repository Staff Only: item control page