'Night mayors' and staggered closing times - minister reveals proposals to overhaul night time entertainment
PUB closing times could be staggered so that thousands of drinkers aren’t going home at the same time, Culture Minister Josepha Madigan has said.
As part of their local election campaign, Fine Gael is proposing the appointment of ‘Night Mayors’.
The ambassadorial role would involve working to advance and improve night-time entertainment, creative and cultural offerings in towns around the country.
As part of the process, Ms Madigan suggested licencing laws could be looked at.
Currently the majority of bars in towns and cities close their doors between 1.30am and 2am at weekends with the result that thousands of people spill into the streets at the same time.
In urban areas the situation frequently results in large queues for taxis and can pose a challenge for gardaí.
“It is an issue that we’re looking at. There is, perhaps, an argument to say that we could staggered an approach so that not everybody is coming out on the street at the same time,” Ms Madigan said.
But she said licencing rules need to be worked out in conjunction with all the stakeholders affected.
She said the Fine Gael plan involves much more than nightclubs and will actively encourage people to look at alternatives.
“It’s about opening art galleries and perhaps showcasing different types of events in our cultural institutions.
“Rather than somebody going out on a date to a pub or a restaurant in the evenings, they might go to the museum or a gallery,” she said.
The idea of a Night Mayor is based on similar positions in cities like London and Amsterdam.
The proposal is that the person would build on existing initiatives like Culture Night or regional events such as Riverfest Limerick, the Galway International Arts Festival or Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.
The Minister is also planning a “mapping exercise” to identify all the cultural venues in towns with a view to establishing if they can be better utilised.
“I’m currently engaging with stakeholders and will be reporting back to Government in the coming months on the options: what type of cultural events do and do not work at night time, what are the challenges for running these events and which venues are the most suitable? This will identify the areas that need to be addressed and will help us take action and bring about change,” she said.
Amsterdam has had a “nachtburgemeester” since 2003 when it was set up to address the Dutch capital’s night life was in decline.
A flagship project has been the introduction of ten 24-hour venues on the western outskirts of the city. The idea was to alleviate the pressure on the city’s heaving centre and create a purpose-built night-time district. The area contains several multidisciplinary venues, including art galleries and co-working spaces, as well as bars and clubs.