Publicans seek Good Friday rugby exemption in court

LIMERICK publicans have applied to the local District Court for a special exemption to open for six hours on Good Friday for the Magners League clash between Munster and Leinster at Thomond Park.

The game is due to kick off at 8.05pm on April 2 and the publicans want court permission to open from 6pm to midnight.

Sixty members of the Limerick branch of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), held a special meeting in The Strand Hotel and signed the application form which will now be sent to the District Court office for a hearing next Tuesday.

Dave Hickey, the Limerick representative on the VFI national executive said their accountants, BDO, will give evidence in court about the financial loss to pubs if they do not get the exemption they seek.

It is estimated that Heineken Cup games at Thomond Park are worth in excess of €10 million to the local economy and the Good Friday Magners League fixture is being put in the same financial bracket as Heineken Cup clashes given that it will involve Leinster.

Mr Hickey, who owns Souths Pub, said: “We briefed all the 60 (VFI) members here this morning and let them know where we are going and every one of them signed on the dotted line that they wanted this application. We hope the application will be successful and it will be made by Gearoid McGann of Sweeney McGann solicitors. We will also have BDO who made the impact study on what games at Thomond Park are worth to the city and its environs.”

He said pubs in Limerick badly need the income which the Good Friday game would yield.

“Business is down by up to 20% and in Limerick city and county alone over the past five or six years, when we had about 450 pubs, we now have around 300. There have been huge job losses, if you put an ad in the paper for a job in a bar you would get hundreds of applications. We have bundles of CVs,” Mr Hickey said.

Mr Hickey said fans attending rugby games in Limerick never cause any trouble.

“Rugby has a huge social side to it and people in Limerick are very passionate about their rugby. Imagine going to Thomond Park without being able to get a drink, or coming out and not being able to get a drink,” he said.

Mr Hickey was critical of the Munster and Leinster rugby authorities.

“We have tried to contact them about getting the game moved to the Thursday, but neither of the two rugby branches have come back to us,” he said.



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