Limerick publicans in renewed plea to end 'archaic' Good Friday ban

 'The time is now for change' in licensing laws

Maria Flannery

Reporter:

Maria Flannery

Email:

maria.flannery@limerickleader.ie

Limerick publicans in renewed plea to end 'archaic' Good Friday ban

Publican and Councillor Jerry O'Dea says the ban is "a bit ludicrous"

PUBLICANS are calling for an end to the Good Friday ban on the sale of alcohol.

The Vintners Federation of Ireland has described the current law which prohibits the sale of alcohol on Good Friday as "archaic" and “discriminatory”.

They are calling for an amendment to the licensing laws to permit all licensed premises to trade normally on the day.

“We do think that for a modern, multicultural city, that people would have the choice as to whether or not they wish to go to a public house,” said Limerick publican and city councillor Jerry O’Dea, who is also secretary for the Vintner’s Federation of Ireland.

“At the moment, the situation is unfortunately a bit ludicrous, and for tourists staying in the city, they’re very confused as to where they stand,” he added.

Limerick was granted a special exemption from the ban in 2010, when Munster and Leinster clashed in Thomond Park on Good Friday.

The boost to tourism that would result from the fixture was considered a good reason to allow local pubs to trade on the day.

Thomond Park had a special stadium licence and would have been allowed to serve drinks on the day in any case.

At the time, Judge Tom O’Donnell said that he found it absurd that pubs could not open for business as well.

“People were visiting from Leinster, and it brought a lot of tourists to the city. We do feel it went very well in 2010 and we’d like to see it lifted in its entirety,” said Mr O’Dea.

“It’s about giving people the choice, even if they are of a particular religious persuasion, it’s more about affording people the choice rather than about restricting people in their choice. We think it makes a lot of sense. The time is now for change,” he added.

Padraig Cribben, CEO of the VFI said the public view the law as being completely out-of-date.

“The law is over 90 years old. In 2017 Consumers should have the option to go out for a drink on Good Friday if they so choose. Indeed, many are choosing to drink at home or organise house parties on the day. Friday itself is a very important trading day – for many publicans it accounts for 30% of their weekly business – and this is especially true of bank holiday weekends,” he said.

“The Government claim to be ready for Brexit but their inability to make a simple law change makes one wonder.

“Publicans have been engaging with politicians on this issue for the last six years but the constant response is the issue will be addressed as part of a new Sale of Alcohol Bill. It’s as if ministers are living in never never land while the rest of us have to live in the real world,” he added.

The VFI are now calling on Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to introduce the necessary legislation in time for Easter 2017, and to avoid further procrastination by deferring it to the Sale of Alcohol Bill.

In the past, stores have noted a boost in alcohol sales on Holy Thursdays, as customers prepare for the one-day prohibition.