Home > The Joint Committee on Justice publishes its report on pre-legislative scrutiny of the General Scheme of the Sale of Alcohol Bill 2022.

Joint Committee on Justice. The Joint Committee on Justice publishes its report on pre-legislative scrutiny of the General Scheme of the Sale of Alcohol Bill 2022. (16 Nov 2023)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/press-centre/press-re...

The Joint Committee on Justice in its Report on Pre-Legislative Scrutiny of the General Scheme of the Sale of Alcohol Bill 2022 makes a number of key recommendations. The consolidation and updating of licensing laws was contained within the Programme for Government and was also a central recommendation contained within the ‘Report of the Night-Time Economy Taskforce’. Among the General Scheme’s objectives include standardising the opening hours for licensed premises throughout the week and extending the opening hours of nightclubs; introducing a ‘cultural amenity licence’ to enable the sale of alcohol in venues as galleries, theatres, museums, subject to certain conditions; the revision of the extinguishment requirement for on licences; the introduction of annual permits for late bars and nightclubs to replace the system of Special Exemption Orders; and moving the responsibility for licensing from the Circuit Court to the District Court. 

Speaking on the Report, Committee Cathaoirleach Deputy James Lawless TD said “The Committee welcomes the General Scheme’s intention to introduce wide-scale reform, modernisation and streamlining of Ireland’s licensing laws, noting that currently licensing laws span over 100 different pieces of legislation, with two of thirds of these having been enacted prior to the foundation of the State.” 

Deputy Lawless said “The Committee acknowledges that the introduction of this legislation is timely following the exceptionally difficult conditions for the hospitality and entertainment sector during the pandemic and shares the desire expressed by stakeholders and witnesses that this legislation would help to re-vitalise the cultural and night-time economy generally.” 

The Deputy added “In undertaking this pre-legislative scrutiny, the Committee has sought to scrutinise the proposed legislation and provide recommendations on areas where it believes change or amendments are warranted. Among the areas identified for further examination within the General Scheme include: the reform of the extinguishment provision [section 21]; the introduction of cultural amenity licences [section 72]; the impact of the extension of the opening hours of bars and nightclubs [sections 44 and 89]; and concerns around public health implications arising from the General Scheme.

Committee recommendations 

Among the recommendations made by the Committee are: 

  • The Committee recommends that consideration be given to amending the title of the Bill to reflect the broader intent and impact of the legislation. 
  • The Committee recommends that further evaluation of the proposal to remove the extinguishment requirement for on-licences and off-licences be undertaken. 
  • The Committee recommends that consideration be given to introducing a separate type of venue licence for use by dance venues and operators instead of a 7-day publican’s licence. However, pubs, late bars and nightclubs should still be able to avail of late opening through a 7-day publican’s licence if they so choose. 
  • The Committee recommends that the legislation should provide a more precise definition of what constitutes a ‘cultural amenity’ and more clarity around the designation of a cultural premises or cultural event. The Department of Justice should consult with the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, relevant stakeholders and the wider public in doing so. 
  • The Committee recommends that consideration be given to allowing cultural amenity licences to enter the late-night market under this legislation. 
  • The Committee recommends that outstanding provisions within the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 are introduced as a priority, to ensure alcohol-related harms are reduced. 
  • In acknowledging that venues as dance halls, movie theatres, cafés, restaurants and other cultural venues are already permitted to operate during night-time hours where they wish and where alcohol is not being served, the Committee recommends that consideration should be given to whether a form of "dry licence” may be appropriate as a complementary measure to the proposals within this legislation, which may enable and regulate the provision of late night cultural and social activities in venues where alcohol is not consumed or sold on the premises. The provision of “hybrid” licenses should also be examined, where alcohol may be served at certain times, but the venue may remain open beyond or before those hours. 
  • The Committee recommends that consideration should be given to allocating additional resources towards contributing to harm reduction measures such as alcohol-related rehabilitative services.
  • The Committee recommends that a Health Impact Assessment of the General Scheme be carried out to evaluate the potential health effects arising from the legislation as proposed.  
  • The Committee recommends that the provisions around alcohol delivery services be strengthened within the General Scheme and that there be age verification at the point of sale and point of delivery of alcohol delivery services.

Read the full Report 

Repository Staff Only: item control page