Scrapping Good Friday drinks ban 'no-brainer'

Donal O'Keeffe and Padraig Cribben, chief executives of the LVA and VFI, in Kehoe's on South Anne Street, Dublin launching the #AboutTime campaign Photo: Johnny Bambury / Fennell Photography

Jane O'Faherty and Eilish O'Regan

The 1916 commemorations and Ireland's soccer clash with Switzerland are being cited by publicans as reasons to allow pubs and clubs to open on Good Friday this year.

Launching a new campaign against the Good Friday ban, the Vintners' Association of Ireland (VFI) and the Licensed Vintners' Association (LVA) said changing the law would be a "no-brainer" for the Government. It comes after an announcement that Ireland will play Switzerland in a friendly soccer international in the Aviva Stadium on Good Friday, which falls on March 25 this year.

Padraig Cribben, CEO of the VFI, said: "The Government previously indicated that Good Friday trading would be permitted in the context of the Sale of Alcohol Bill, but so far nothing has happened.

"Most other retail businesses are open and trading, so why is the licensed trade being treated differently?"

Mr Cribben argued that up to a quarter of a million people were expected to pass through Dublin Airport over the Easter weekend, many of whom would be Irish people returning to visit families.

Donal O'Keeffe, chief executive of the LVA, said the existing law leaves "thousands of tourists wandering around the streets of our cities and towns asking why they can't go into a pub for a drink".

"Those numbers will be boosted this year because of the Easter 2016 celebrations," he added. "We are also going to have up to 50,000 soccer fans in Dublin facing the same problem outside the stadium."

Health Minister Leo Varadkar said his department would not object to any change in the law.

The Department of Justice was unavailable for comment.