Nightclub industry makes late plea to McDowell

MINISTER for Justice Michael McDowell is being urged to make an 11th hour addition to his liquor licensing clampdown.

The Minister is understood to be bringing the Intoxicating Liquor Bill to the Cabinet for approval this morning but nightclub owners want him to bring in a new standard license for their premises. The Irish Nightclub Industry Association are meeting with the Minister this week because they believe there are serious deficiencies in the legislation.

According to an INIA spokesman, nightclubs do not know from one month to the next what hours they can remain open for trade and want a special nightclub license introduced as part of the legislation.

Meanwhile, Minister McDowell announced yesterday the Government has agreed to the establishment of a Commission and Fund to cater for the needs of the victims of the conflict in Northern Ireland and their families south of the border.

The Remembrance Fund will be administered by a Commission made up of five people and €3 million has been allocated this year for payments to victims and their families.

Also yesterday, Minister McDowell was accused of finding resources for office refurbishment but not for hiring extra gardaí.

Fine Gael justice spokesman John Deasy said the Minister was splashing out €15 million on upgrading the Department of Justice but cannot provide money for the 2,000 extra gardaí promised by the Government.

“The Justice Minister's priority seems to be making officials at the Department of Justice more comfortable rather than making Irish streets safer. How can the public be expected to take this Government seriously when offices are being upgraded at the same time the Government is claiming not to have enough money to train more guards?” Mr Deasy said. But the Minister’s spokesman denied the reports that the Department of Justice headquarters on St Stephen’s Green was getting a facelift. Decisions on office refurbishment and building maintenance were also the responsibility of the Office of Public Works, the spokesman said. Proposals to upgrade had been around for five years but no action had been taken.

“We don’t have a budget for this type of work. It is entirely an OPW matter and we are not aware of any decision being made,” the spokesman said.

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