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Sunday 21 July 2019

Young people opposed to Good Friday alcohol law change

Dr John Murray: ‘Government should perhaps think twice’
Dr John Murray: ‘Government should perhaps think twice’
Claire Murphy

Claire Murphy

Young people aged 18 to 24 have the greatest opposition to changing Good Friday drinking laws, new research has found.

It has discovered that the public is split almost exactly 50/50 on whether or not we should change our Good Friday drinking laws.

But the majority of young people, 58pc, want to see the tradition retained and pubs to close on that day.

The Government said it intends to change the drinking laws on Good Friday so that alcohol can be served in pubs, clubs, hotels and restaurants on that day. A poll of 1,000 people found that 51pc of the public supports the move and 49pc are against it.

Opposition to the move is strongest among the youngest age group surveyed, namely the 18- to 24-year-olds.

The poll, conducted by Amarach Research, was commissioned by The Iona Institute, a Christian advocacy and research body.

Women are also more likely to oppose the move with 54pc of women against changing the drinking laws on Good Friday, while 56pc of men support the proposal.

The poll put two statements to respondents and asked them which one came closest to their point of view: 'Closing the pubs on Good Friday is old-fashioned and out of date and they should be let open' and 'Closing the pubs on Good Friday is an Irish tradition we should respect and so keep it that way'.

Dr John Murray, chairman of The Iona Institute, said perhaps the Government should "think twice before giving in" to the vintners and restaurateurs.

"There are only two days in the year when the pubs close, the other one being Christmas Day," said Dr Murray.

"In time will they open on that day too.

"It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Good Friday drinking laws are regarded as a soft target because the original motivation for the restrictions was religious, as indeed is the motivation for closing the pubs on Christmas Day.

"The Government, and Fianna Fáil as well, should look past this and recognise that it is a good idea in itself to have two days of the year when alcohol is not served in public places.

"We already have a big alcohol problem in Ireland and we restrict pub opening hours and the sale of alcohol for exactly that reason.

"Perhaps a compromise can be found here that could reflect the 50/50 split among the public.

"In some countries with Sunday trading restrictions, shops are allowed to open in tourist areas.

"Maybe we can do something similar here in the case of pubs and restaurants. This would surely satisfy all fair-minded people."

The former justice minister Frances Fitzgerald said the Government would not stand in the way of the private member's bill, which aims to abolish the ban for pubs and off-licences, brought forward by Senator Billy Lawless.

The Tánaiste later called for amendments to ensure that the abolition will also apply to restaurants, clubs and hotels.

Irish Independent

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