Justice Minister has no timeline in mind for passing of proposed alcohol-serving time extensions for pubs and clubs

Justice Minister Helen McEntee

THE Minster for Justice could not commit to a date for when proposed extensions to licensing laws, which would allow nightclubs in Limerick to open until 6am, might be passed.

Members of the night-time industry said after the Minister’s visit to Limerick last week that they were “concerned” that the proposed changes – which would see pubs open until 12.30am and nightclubs serve alcohol until 5am – would not be passed in time for this summer, the sector’s busiest time of year.

Two years ago the government signed off on a draft of the Sale of Alcohol Bill, however the Licensed Vintners Association and Vintners Federation of Ireland said it fears there is no longer any political will to implement the changes.

Former Fine Gael Minster for Justice Charlie Flanagan said that he had pressed within the party to drop the proposed time extensions for serving alcohol due to his concerns about the potential impact that “all night drinking” would have on the health system, adding that there was “no demand” from the public for it.

When asked during her visit to Limerick about the proposed changes, Minister McEntee replied: “This is quite a large change that I’ve been working on and there are a lot of measures that need to be legislated for, and we’ve been working on that in my department.”

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“What I hope to do is bring forward some of those measures in the near future, but acknowledging that there’s a huge amount of change that’s needed and required across quite a number of different systems.”

When pressed on when these changes would come in to play, the Minister replied: “As soon as I possibly can.”