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Sunday 17 December 2017

Publicans call for end to 'negative' ban on Good Friday boozing

Donall O’Keeffe of the LVA and the VFI’s Padraig Cribben
Donall O’Keeffe of the LVA and the VFI’s Padraig Cribben

A Dublin group that represents 600 publicans has renewed pressure for the "discriminatory" ban on serving alcohol on Good Friday to be lifted.

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) said it sends a "terribly negative signal" to tourists when the alcohol trade is shut down.

"Customers should have the option to go for a drink on Good Friday if they so choose. Many of them are choosing to drink at home anyway. It's bad for tourism, it's bad for business," said LVA CEO Donall O'Keeffe.

The Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) is an associated group that represents 4,000 publicans outside of Dublin.

It made a video on Good Friday last year to show the negative impact it had on tourists and locals.

"One man from the US pointed out that in his country there is a separation between church and state, and that's what one would expect in a modern democracy," said VFI chief Padraig Cribben.

Conscience

Bishop Eamonn Walsh, the vice-chair of the Irish Bishops' Drugs Initiative, said: "Good Friday is a day when Christians of all denominations throughout the world take time to reflect on the Passion and death of Christ. They often do this by abstaining from alcohol.

"The sale of alcohol on Good Friday is an issue on which Christians can make up their own minds based on an informed conscience and on the content of proposed legislation."

The LVA and the VFI commissioned a report which found that businesses lost €30m each year because of the closure. They also discovered the Exchequer loses €6m on excise duty and VAT.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the laws relating to the ban will be examined in the context of the coming Sale of Alcohol Bill, but did not specify when the draft Bill will be published.

The law banning the sale of alcohol on Good Friday is almost a century old. St Patrick's Day was included in the ban until 1960.

Alcohol is available on Good Friday on planes, in airports, on ferries and in theatres. Hotels guests can be served alcohol if they order a meal.

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