Saturday 15 December 2018

Good Friday pub crawls already organised as ban lifted

Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

Pub crawls are already being organised as alcohol will be served on Good Friday for the first time in 91 years.

The price of progress is the €2.7m boost that the drinks industry estimates it will bring to the exchequer from Vat and excise duty.

The ban, which was first introduced as a sign of religious respect, had been cited by supporters as part of Ireland’s “national identity”.

However, those who backed the removal of the ban believed it didn’t fit in a changing Ireland and damaged tourism.

Legislation was passed in the Dáil yesterday and will soon be signed into law by President Michael D Higgins, which will end the ban which proved increasingly controversial in recent years.

But concern was raised about the prioritisation of the bill over the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill which aims to introduce measures to combat the overconsumption of alcohol.

The changed law means that pubs will be free to open on March 30 – the date Good Friday falls on this year – with events and pub crawls already being organised online.

Dublin website Publin has already organised a crawl at €15 a head – but which they insist will not include themed locations such as the Confession Box out of respect.

John Geraghty (32), who has run the site for the past seven years, says he expects big interest.

He said he began organising the pub crawl a number of weeks back when he heard there would be a vote to lift the prohibition.

The Boar’s Head will make history as one of the first pubs in the country to open on  Good Friday. 

Being among the few pubs in the capital to hold an early morning licence, the iconic watering hole will start serving pints from 7am.  

Boar’s Head owner Hugh Hourican told the Irish Independent he was ecstatic that the drinking bad has finally been lifted and he said guests would receive their first Guinness for free.

“It’s history in the making and certainly a long time coming,” he said. “There are over half a million tourists coming into the city every weekend and they’re always very surprised and disappointed to see the pubs closed on Good Friday.”

A Dáil debate on the Bill heard of extremes many went to to circumvent the ban and recalled practises including concealing wine in a teapot, or taking a train journey for the purpose of purchasing alcohol.

Introducing the Bill – first proposed by Senator Billy Lawless – in the Dáil yesterday, Minister of State David Stanton noted that the so-called ‘booze ban’ was “unsuited to our modern society”.

“We live in a very different society than that which existed when the restrictions were put in place,” he said.

But Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan said that the “alcohol debate in this country is riddled with ironies”.

“This Bill to abolish the Good Friday ban, which will give people another day on which to go into a pub or off-licence and get alcohol, will be considered alongside the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which aims to reduce the consumption of alcohol in Ireland.”

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