Clarifying laws on outdoor drinking could be before the Dáil next week 

Clarifying laws on outdoor drinking could be before the Dáil next week 

Princes Street, Cork, which the Taoiseach visited today. He said 'there is no issue with outdoor dining right now'.  Picture: Michael O'Sullivan

Legislation aimed at clarifying the laws around outdoor drinking could come before the Dáil as early as next week.

The issue arose after gardaí warned that some pubs and restaurants may not be allowed under licensing laws to serve alcohol in recently set-up seating areas outside premises.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has instructed gardaí to use discretion in relation to outdoor drinking, but primary legislation aimed at codifying the situation is now being planned.

A spokesperson for Justice Minister Heather Humphreys tonight said the issue could be resolved in the coming days.

"The Department of Justice, in consultation with the Department of Housing and the Attorney General’s office, is working on how to provide clarity on the consumption of alcohol in designated areas outside licensed premises.

"It is anticipated that primary legislation will be required. Minister Humphreys has said the Government is determined to support pubs and restaurants as they re-open this summer.

The minister wants this issue to be dealt with as quickly as possible. She expects to bring proposals to Cabinet in the coming days, with required legislation potentially coming before the Oireachtas next week.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin yesterday told the Irish Examiner: “I think we can get this resolved, there is no issue with outdoor dining right now."

He said people are not going to be fined, and the Garda Commissioner has been very clear in terms of the application of Garda discretion.

“That said, if there's an issue, that will be resolved.”

He said he recalled the debate around mask-wearing in shops, and ultimately it was the public who policed that policy.

Mr Martin said what is needed is a “bit of cop on, a bit of common sense”.

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