Publicans and off-licence owners have expressed their disappointment at a decision by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald not to introduce legislation which would allow licensed premises to sell alcohol on Good Friday.
Ms Fitzgerald had come under pressure to amend the law to allow alcohol to be sold on Good Friday, with the Irish football team’s friendly in Dublin cited as one event on that day at which fans will not be able to buy beers or spirits.
Ms Fitzgerald ruled out changing the existing laws when asked on RTÉ Radio One yesterday by Sean O’Rourke.
She said: “I won’t be doing it this year and it is something for consideration under the alcohol legislation.”
The chief executive of the Licenced Vintners Association, Donall O’Keeffe, said his members and members of the public will struggle to understand the rationale behind the minister’s decision.
“This is a lost opportunity not just for publicans but for the capital city and the tourist sector as a whole,” Mr O’Keeffe said.
“This year there was a particular urgency around this issue given the Ireland 2016 celebrations would focus on the Easter weekend and that we have an international soccer friendly between Ireland and Switzerland taking place in the Aviva Stadium on Good Friday itself.
“Once again thousands of tourists and holiday-goers are going to be at a loss wondering why they can’t go to a pub for a drink,” he said.
Earlier this week, Ms Fitzgerald had told the Dáil that the existing Good Friday provisions would be examined in the context of the forthcoming Sale of Alcohol Bill.
“However drafting of that complex bill has been delayed and I have therefore asked my department to examine whether it may be possible to proceed with a number of pressing reforms to the Licensing Acts in a future separate bill,” Ms Fitzgerald said on Tuesday.
“However, examination of this matter is still at an early stage and no timeframe for a decision is yet available,” she said.
Padraig Cribben of the Vintners Association of Ireland described the existing law as “archaic”.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved