Publicans seek urgent meeting with Minister over 'staggered closing times' for pubs
- Minister Madigan's proposal intends to free up streets from punters at closing time.
Vintners' groups are seeking an urgent meeting with Minister Josepha Madigan about her proposal to stagger pub closing times.
CEO of the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), Donal O'Keeffe, said "staggered" closing times are already in effect in Ireland, and he hoped to explore what Ms Madigan's new proposals mean.
Ms Madigan said that licensing laws and bar closing times should be reviewed so that thousands of drinkers are not going home at the same time.
"We already have staggered closing hours to an extent, in that on weekends traditional bars will have to close at 12:30am and we have late night bars until 2:30am for people that want to go later," Mr O'Keeffe said.
"We have sought with Minister Madigan to explore what she means by staggered closing times and how she envisaging it working and we are looking froward to that engagement. "
Similarly, a spokesperson for the Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) said the first they are not aware of any proposals regarding closing times being actively considered.
“Other than some media coverage the VFI is not aware of any proposals to alter the licensing laws.
"Our members have not expressed any wish to change the current laws governing closing time," a spokesperson for the VFI said.
Currently the majority of bars in towns and cities close between 1.30am and 2am at weekends, resulting in thousands of people spilling onto the streets at once. In urban areas, the situation frequently results in large queues for taxis and can pose a challenge for gardaí.
Ms Madigan said: “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.”
Independent.ie caught up with local pub owners to hear their views on the proposal:
Willie Aherne, The Palace Bar, Temple Bar
"It does make sense, but I think what she is proposing is making it more official what is unofficially already there.
"You already have standard pub hours that are maybe 11:30 during the week and 12:30 at the weekend, you then have your late night bars, and you have your late, late bars.
"The likes of these laws do need to be reviewed though because they are very relaxed and very loose.
"There are the likes of places trading like pubs that do not have licenses and I don't think the guards know that or they have enough on their plate at the moment."
Eoghan Mangan, Devitt’s Pub Camden Street
"Personally yes, I do think it's a good idea, trouble on the street being the main reason. I think it would be a bit more relaxed at the end of the night if they have somewhere to go. It gets people off the street.
"Not that there is much trouble on the street but a lot of rows happen in chippers or waiting on taxis.
"There could be 20 pubs in a short range, if they are all coming out demanding their last drink at the same time there could be a bit of friction."
Alan McGeough, McGeough’s The Bohemian, Phibsboro, Dublin 7
"I think we should probably leave it up to the pub owners.
"But if anything was to happen it should be done in conjunction with the Licensed Vintners Association.
"Some of our customers were talking about it yesterday, and they didn't seem to think that there is trouble on the streets, but maybe it is the case in other parts of town.
"We haven't noticed it around here anyway."
David Hickey, Souths Pub
"I don’t think it will work. They have spoken about it several times now and it won't happen this time either.
"You already have late night bars and bars closing at 12/12:30 so you could say there is already a bit of a stagger."
David Walsh, The Woodford
"I’d be in favour of that if it was up to the pub owner to keep the hours they choose. There is too much regulation in the industry already, a new rule every week."
Danny Scahill, Danny's Westport
"How would they decide who will close first? I’m next door to the night club and it would be important for be to be able to stay open late as most of my business would be from 10:30 - 12:30.
"It would affect my business if I had to close earlier."
PJ Kavanagh , Kavanagh’s Bar and Venue, Portlaoise
"I think the licensing laws need to change right now.
"They are very antiquated, many of them were written in the 1920s.
"Habits and customs have changed and we need to move with the times to I’d welcome a review of licensing laws."
Patricia McGinley, The Cottage Bar Letterkenny
"I think it should be up to the owner to open and close when they please, we are all adults here people should be able to go home when they want.
"Beside pubs aren't as busy now as they used to be."
Ms Madigan has also proposed the implementation of a 'night mayor' in Irish towns and cities.
The ambassadorial role would involve working to advance and improve night-time entertainment, creative and cultural offerings in towns around the country.
The night mayor idea is based on positions in cities such as London and Amsterdam.
Amsterdam has had a 'nachtburgemeester' since 2003 when the role was set up to address the decline of nightlife in the city.
When asked if such roles, which would promote non drink night time events in the city would impact business O'Keeffe of the LVA said:
"We think that the concept of a night mayor and adding cultural diversity and different entertainment options to the city centre is a positive thing.
"Anything that gives people another reason to go out is welcome.
"We want to explore in detail how it will impact on how it impact on licensing law and trading hours and we look forward to meeting her on that."