Saturday 15 December 2018

'Test case' brought to ensure pubs will be granted extensions to serve alcohol on Good Friday

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Tom Tuite

A test case has been brought to ensure pubs in Dublin will be granted late bar extensions to serve alcohol after normal closing times on Good Friday.

In January legislation amending the Intoxicating Liquor Act was passed allowing pubs and other licensed premises across the country to open and legally serve alcohol on the religious holiday for the first time in almost 100 years.

However, after the lifting of the booze ban, a Good Friday agreement is now being sought over special exemptions applications for late bars in Dublin on the holy day, which falls on March 30 next.

They have been adjourned pending a decision by Judge Michael Coghlan at Dublin District Court.

Dorothy Collins BL, for the Red Cow Inn on the Naas Road, D. 22, told the court today that their application was being treated as a “test case”; it was supported by the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and if they were refused an appeal will be launched.

In their case the application was for a special exemptions order to run from Good Friday into the early hours of Saturday, March 31 next.

The barrister furnished the court with a copy of the recent amendment to the Intoxicating Liquor Act which has deleted any reference to Good Friday and she said that it was now “deemed to be an ordinary Friday”.

The application had the support of the LVA, the trade association and representative body for the publicans of Dublin, Judge Coghlan was told told.

Ms Collins said 110 premises had similar applications pending in the same court for special exemptions orders and the majority of them related to Good Friday.

She submitted that it was an extremely important holiday period for Dublin, particularly in relation to tourists, and the legislature has now decided that it was no different in law to any other day.

She furnished the court with a letter from the LVA pleading with the court to grant the applications for special exemptions orders made by its members in relation to Good Friday.

The LVA stated in its submission: “Our rational was that Good Friday should be treated like a normal Friday from a licensing perspective. This should include the possibility of obtaining special exemption orders on Holy Thursday and Good Friday night in order to serve the obvious demand for late bars in Dublin across this key trading weekend”.

Judge Coghlan said that in relation to the application by the Red Cow Inn, he was going to have to “look at the law and I will be able to distil my views in approximately a week hence”.

There was no Garda objection to the application.

Red Cow Inn general manager John O’Shea told the licensing court that due to the nature and location of their businesses they had a large number of customers from the general public, tourists and private functions.

They can have up to 1,500 people on the premises but there was no public transport at the location and it was important to stagger exit times, at midnight, 1am and 2.30 am, so people could leave safely.

He said their regulars came from as far as 15 to 20 miles away.

Ms Collins submitted that a special exemption order could only be refused if there was reason to be believe there was a threat to public safety.

The case related only to licensed premises in Dublin.

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