Determined drinkers make the most of loophole in law
DETERMINED drinkers flocked to the few venues allowed to serve alcohol yesterday and raised a glass to a loophole in the law that allowed them to imbibe while the rest of country stayed dry.
Business was brisk at the Oslo Bar in Dublin's Connolly Station, where a drink could be had for the price of an intercity rail ticket -- as long as the journey was 40km or more.
Many of those who paid €10 or more for a ticket were packing away as many pints as time allotted before the 6pm closing bell.
Eoin Kelly (26), from Co Westmeath, settled in for a long Good Friday with three of his flatmates.
"We've been here since 1pm and we're not going anywhere," he told the Irish Independent.
"We all like having a laugh," he said. "And we're going to get locked."
His flatmate Alan Horan (28), from Co Leitrim, had originally intended to get the 11am train to Carrick-on-Shannon, but got waylaid on his way to the turnstile.
"I said, 'ah, feck it', I might as well have a few beers," he said.
Enjoying a quiet pint of Smithwicks on the other side of the crowded bar, Dubliner Michael Byrne (62) said he was there to drink in protest of the 1927 Intoxicating Liquor Act, which makes it illegal to sell alcohol anywhere on Good Friday and Christmas Day, with few notable exceptions.
"It's just a way of beating the system," said Mr Byrne, from Raheny, who has been coming to the bar every Good Friday for the past 10 years.
"It's ridiculous. It's antiquated. Ninety per cent of the people here aren't going anywhere. It's like a regular Good Friday club," he said.
It was also business as usual the at Rosses Point Golf Club in Co Sligo.
Golfers and their friends and families packed the clubhouse, where they too could enjoy a tipple as part of the West of Ireland Amateur Golf Championship, which has been held every Easter weekend since 1923.
Private clubs are permitted to sell alcohol for six hours, while other exceptions include airlines, licensed theatres and concert halls.
But they were among the few exceptions to the law, which many publicans and nightclub owners want to see repealed.
Barry O'Sullivan, chief executive of the Irish Nightclub Industry Association, said many clubs didn't apply for the special exemption orders to trade after midnight this year as they felt there was little likelihood they would be granted.
"People talk about a dry day when it is probably the wettest day of the year. It needs to be looked at. It is having a serious effect on business in Dublin city centre and county," he said.
Last year, Suite 54 nightclub at Tonic in Blackrock, Dublin, had its licence allowing it to trade after midnight on Good Friday revoked.
General manger Ryan Pedlar said solicitors advised them not to apply as they weren't being granted. He said the club would lose €8,000 on the night and it was time the laws were revisited.
Padraig Cribbin, chief executive of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), said many of his 4,500 members felt people should be given a choice.