'It's part of our national identity' - FG Senator breaks ranks over Good Friday Alcohol Bill
Fine Gael Senator Joe O'Reilly has broken ranks with the Government saying he is against proposals to scrap the 90-year-old ban on selling alcohol on Good Friday arguing that it's "part of our national identity".
The Fine Gael-led minority government has agreed to allow the Bill - proposed by independent senators - to pass unopposed.
However, Fine Gael Senator Joe O'Reilly has signalled his opposition to the plans put forward by senators Billy Lawless, Michael McDowell, Gerard Craughwell and Victor Boyhan.
Mr O'Reilly told the Seanad: "I would like to respectfully depart from the developing and growing consensus around the opening of licenced premises on Good Friday.
"I’m against it for a couple of distinct reasons.
"The de facto situation that we have at the moment - of pubs being closed on Good Friday - is part of our national identity.
"It’s a distinctly Irish thing and its been that way for a long time."
He added that it's a non-sectarian part of Ireland's religious tradition.
Mr O'Reilly also said: "I think it’s also sent a subliminal message out about our attitude to alcohol that we did favour a temperance and that there was a space of a non-alcohol day too in the year.
"I also think that we shouldn’t give in to every fad and every whim of commercialism.
"If there is money to be lost so be it if there’s a valuable national priority to be maintained.
"I think keeping the pubs closed on Good Friday is distinctly Irish, it’s part of our religious cultural heritage, and I honestly would like to put it on the record," he said.
The Seanad Intoxicating Liquor (Amendment) Bill 2017 - will see the sale of licenced premises permitted on Good Friday from next year onwards.