herald

Saturday 17 November 2018

Pub trade gears up for bumper Good Friday as time is finally called on 'archaic' booze ban

Vintners CEO Donall O’Keeffe
Vintners CEO Donall O’Keeffe

People will be able to buy alcohol on Good Friday for the first time in the history of the State.

Legislation passed through the Dail yesterday which will be signed into law ahead of this Good Friday on March 30.

In the capital, plans are already underway to mark the historic occasion - with one company releasing details of a Good Friday pub crawl.

Publin will run a four-hour pub crawl in the city on the day.

The organisers have promised to tell the "story of the Good Friday prohibition and then toast to its removal".

The drinks industry estimates the move will lead to a €2.7m boost to the exchequer, resulting from VAT and excise duty on the day itself. The ban - first introduced in 1927 as a sign of respect - has long been labelled "archaic" by those who campaigned for its removal.

Donall O'Keeffe, Chief Executive of the Licensed Vintners Association, which represents Dublin publicans, welcomed the move.

"Removing the ban is simple common sense," said Mr O'Keeffe. "The large number of tourists visiting Ireland at Easter were confused by a law that made Ireland appear out of touch with the rest of our European neighbours.

Boost

"The extra day's trade at such a busy time of year will be a welcome boost. This change is a win for our customers, our tourists, our suppliers and the wider hospitality sector."

The Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI) has also given a broad welcome to the repeal of the ban. Chief Executive of the RAI Adrian Cummins told the Herald that members had already been experiencing a rush of bookings - even before the law was passed.

"We're expecting this year to be a bumper year, there is a huge novelty factor. We've had our members ringing to see when it was going to go through, and consumers as well," he said.

Mr Cummins said the day, while a working day, was often a popular choice for people to take annual leave, making an extra long weekend over Easter.

In the Dail yesterday, the Bill was welcomed by many as a sign of a modern Ireland - and one that would lead to a boost in tourism during the busy Easter period. Introducing the Bill - first proposed by Senator Billy Lawless - Minister of State David Stanton noted that the so-called 'booze-ban' was "unsuited to our modern society".

"Tourism makes a much greater contribution to our economy, and this is particularly true during holidays, such as the busy Easter period," he said.

Ballymun TD Noel Rock recalled encountering "bemused tourists" every Good Friday as a result of the ban.

"As a deputy based in Dublin, every Good Friday I see bemused tourists wandering the streets of Dublin wondering why everywhere they wanted to go is closed.

"They do not understand why they were not given this information in advance and they do not realise this country has such a tradition. It is somewhat quaint and bemusing at this stage," he said.

Meanwhile, the move has been widely welcomed by the hospitality sector which predicts that the removal of the ban will be worth between €6m and €8m to the industry.

However, concern was raised about the prioritisation of the bill over the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which aims to introduce measures to combat the overconsumption of alcohol.

Dublin Central TD Maureen O'Sullivan said the "alcohol debate in this country is riddled with ironies".

"This Bill to abolish the Good Friday ban, which will give people another day on which to go into a pub or off-licence and get alcohol, will be considered alongside the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which aims to reduce the consumption of alcohol in Ireland," she said.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News