Good Friday pub opening ruling to be given tomorrow

PUBLICANS awaiting a court ruling with “bated breath”, will find out tomorrow if they can open on Good Friday for the big Munster versus Leinster game at Thomond Park.

After more than an hour and a half of legal arguments yesterday, Judge Tom O’Donnell adjourned his decision.

State solicitor Michael Murray on behalf of gardaí, objected to an application by Limerick publicans to open from 6pm to midnight on Good Friday, claiming that the game did not constitute a special event under the terms of drink laws.

Jerry O’Dea, chairman of the Vintners Federation of Ireland Limerick branch, said in evidence that the game was a special event as it was the biggest domestic game of the year. “This is no ordinary match, because it only happens once in a given year (in Limerick).”

Sean Lally, manager of the Strand Hotel, said all their 145 rooms had been booked out. It would be a logistical nightmare for hotels, he said, if they did not get an exemption. They could be faced with people having a meal at one table being able to get drink and non-residents at the next table, not allowed any drink.

Mark O’Connell of BDO, said Magners League games were worth €1.2m to €3.5m to the city. But a Munster-Leinster game would bring in €5m-€7.3m. In his submission, Gearóid McGann for the publicans said there was no legal definition of “special event” although the word “event” was defined in the licensing laws. He said a Supreme Court judge had said the definition of “special” was something that was not common or usual, but singular. All they had to do was satisfy the court that the game was a special event.

Mr Murray, in his submission, said: “The difficult of this event is it is not a special event, but it is an event being held on a special day, Good Friday.”

Judge O’Donnell, said the application was awaited with bated breath and he would give his decision at 9.30am tomorrow.


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