Row over new off-licence planning guidelines

Harry McGee, Political Editor

Yesterday, the minister hit back at critical remarks made by Mr O'Dowd, who is his party's environment spokesman, over the weekend, in which he portrayed the new requirement as a publicity stunt.

Mr Roche countered yesterday by claiming that Fine Gael was displaying "remarkable double standards" on alcohol sales.

"Fine Gael likes to portray itself as a party of law and order," he said, referring to the party's campaign to introduce a tough anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) regime.

"However, when Fine Gael had the opportunity to do something positive about one of the most prevalent causes of anti-social behaviour excessive alcohol consumption the party has chosen to do nothing.

"Incredibly Fine Gael, the party of law and order, has voted against a modest proposal to introduce planning controls on off licences."

But Mr O'Dowd countered by claiming that Mr Roche was resorting to baseless attacks. He said the minister introduced his planning guidelines, days before the Dáil rose for the summer two weeks ago, without any proper time for discussion and debate.

"Fine Gael opposed the guidelines because we believed the proposals on off-licences were a headline-grabbing attempt to give the impression that something was being done about anti-social behaviour when the reality was far different," he said.

The new regulations will become part of the Planning and Development Act and will require all new off-licences to apply for permission to the local authority. However, shops that sell only wine, and for which alcohol sales are not the primary part of their business, will be exempt.

Justifying the new requirement yesterday, the Minister said: "Under the current planning law a person wishing to open a fish and chip shop on any main street or any town in Ireland requires planning permission.

"No planning permission is necessary if the same shop were to be converted into an off-licence selling beer, spirits and wine," he said.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.