60 publicans sign up for landmark Good Friday challenge
A DATE has been fixed for the landmark court bid by publicans to open for business on Good Friday.
Yesterday, more than 60 publicans from across Limerick city signed up to seek an area exemption application, which will be heard in Limerick District Court next Tuesday.
It is understood that this is the first time publicans have challenged legislation banning the sale of alcohol on Good Friday.
The eagerly anticipated Magners' League clash between Munster and Leinster at Thomond Park stadium has been fixed for the evening of April 2 and publicans claim the sell-out fixture allows them to make their legal challenge.
Should they be successful in court, up to 100 pubs in the Limerick city borough area will open on the day of the game from 6pm to midnight.
Proprietor of South's pub in Limerick city, Dave Hickey, who is also the city's representative on the Vintners' Federation of Ireland, said all of his colleagues were "100pc behind the court application".
Publicans gathered together yesterday at the Strand Hotel in Limerick to discuss the issue.
"We have got the green light from everyone, they all want this application," Mr Hickey said.
It is expected chairman of the Limerick vintners' Gerry O'Dea and personnel from BDO Simpson Xavier -- which put together a report on the economic benefit of a full Thomond Park to Limerick -- will provide evidence.
The Limerick diocese said they would not be lodging an objection to the application.
The publicans said their campaign received a significant boost from respected senior counsel and author on the liquor licensing acts, Constance Cassidy, who said she believed there was a possibility that the Limerick publicans could be successful in their application.
Ms Cassidy said an application "can be made where there is a special event . . . at which a considerable number of persons will be attracted to the locality".
Mr Hickey said rugby matches in Limerick had a large social side. "Limerick people are very passionate about this. There is 26,000 going to be at the game," he said.
Mr Hickey said there were 450 pubs open across Limerick more than three years ago, but that number had since been reduced to 300.
The publican also expressed his disappointment that organisers of the Magners' League, Celtic Rugby, along with Leinster and Munster rugby authorities, had not responded to their efforts to get the fixture moved to Holy Thursday.
Tournament director of Celtic Rugby David Jordan said the organisers had considered holding the game on April 1, but this date "was not suitable".