Justice Minister Helen McEntee has said that the planned extension of pub opening hours is about supporting the hospitality industry in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Yesterday, it was widely reported thatSunday pub opening hours will be extended and city centre nightclubs will stay open beyond 2.30am when the pandemic is over.
Cultural venues, such as art galleries and theatres, will be given special forms of alcohol licenses while special event licences will be given for marquee weddings and other one-off occasions.
The creation of a dedicated nightclub permit will remove the expensive legal pretence of clubs applying to courts for special exemption orders for each night they want to open beyond regular pub hours.
As well as that, a reform of Sunday trading hours is designed to align pub and off-licence opening times with the rest of the week.
For example, pubs will be able to serve until 12.30am on Saturdays and Sundays.
At present, pubs, off-licences and supermarkets cannot sell alcohol before 12.30pm on a Sunday; pubs must stop serving at 11pm, while off-licences must close at 10pm and nightclubs at 1am.
The licensing reform will also involve "staggering and extending closing times".
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said the plan aims to modernise Irelands licensing laws.
It is not about encouraging people to go out late on a Sunday night and then having to get up for work on Monday morning, she said.
This is about reforming our licensing laws modernising them for the very reason that some of them are still based on 1833 legislation.
It is about acknowledging that our clubs and nightclubs in our city centres and our large towns and villages are still working off legislation and acts that started back in 1935.
It is also about making sure we can provide greater options for people, not just people who live in this country but tourists, who come to visit.
The news of extending pub and nightclub opening hours came just a day after Taoiseach Michel Martin said that there will be no consideration of pubs to re-open until at least mid-Summer.
With the industry among the hardest hit by the Coivd-10 pandemic, with many pubs and nightclubs forced to close their doors for almost a year, Minister McEntee said the overhaul will offer a welcome boost to the hospitality sector.
I fully acknowledge that we are talking about this at a time when much of that industry is closed, she said.
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.
We have fantastic musicians, artists, DJs, promoters and people working in this industry who are going to need more supports when COVID finishes and that is what this legislation is about.