Pubs warned on Good Friday cartels
The decision of pubs in some rural towns to continue to abide by the long-standing tradition of remaining closed on Good Friday may not be legal.
The competition watchdog has warned publicans that they cannot group together and collectively make a decision to close their pubs on the holy day.
A 91-year ban on alcohol being sold on Good Friday was lifted in January, but pubs have decided to remain closed in a number of rural towns.
However, under competition law, businesses must act independently in making commercial decisions.
A spokeswoman for the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) said: "In recent weeks we have become aware of reports concerning a small number of publicans deciding not to open on Good Friday, March 30.
"The opening hours of a pub are a matter for each publican to decide. Publicans should decide individually and not collectively, the terms and conditions under which they are willing to provide goods or services to customers.
"The CCPC reminds all publicans that under competition law, they are obliged to make commercial decisions, including their opening hours for business, independently."
The CCPC has contacted the representative bodies for pubs, the Licensed Vintners Association and the Vintners Federation of Ireland.
The CCPC has positively engaged with the Licensed Vintners Association and the Vintners Federation of Ireland, both of whom are assisting the CCPC in reminding their members that, as businesses, they have obligations under competition law.
Legislation was passed in the Dail in January to amend the Intoxicating Liquor Act and end the ban on the sale of alcohol. Minister of State David Stanton said the "restrictions of the type that we are repealing in this Bill are no longer in tune with today's Ireland".
Donal O'Keeffe of the Licensed Vintners Association said at the time that the lifting of the ban would boost Irish tourism.
"Tourism makes a much greater contribution to our economy and this is particularly true during holidays, such as the busy Easter period," he said.
The Good Friday ban has been in place in Ireland since 1927.