NI pubs could open later

Published Tuesday, 24 July 2012
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Some pubs in Northern Ireland could be allowed to stay open until 2am and open later during holiday periods, under proposed changes announced by the Social Development Minister.

NI pubs could open later
Bars in Belfast currently stop serving alcohol at 1am. (© Getty)

UTV NEWS POLL

Should pubs and clubs in Northern Ireland be allowed to stay open later?
Should pubs and clubs in Northern Ireland be allowed to stay open later?


A consultation launched by Nelson McCausland could give some bars an extra hour of opening on special occasions, while the sale of alcohol in supermarkets may be further restricted.

The Minister said he wants to tackle the "increasingly unhealthy relationship with alcohol", adding that too many people die because of drink misuse.

Although the abuse of alcohol costs the public health in NI £900 million a year, and almost 300 people died directly from misuse in 2010, Mr McCausland said he recognised that drink is a major sustainer of jobs in the hospitality industry.

"It is a sad paradox however that the decline in pubs, which offer the safest and most regulated place to consume alcohol, has come alongside what seems to be an increase in drinking and alcohol-related problems," he said.

Any bars that took up the extra opening hour would have to pay a fee to cover the additional cost of emergency service cover during the period. Mr McCausland has also proposed late opening on the Thursday and Sunday before Easter Saturday - when pubs and bars usually shut early.

Pubs of Ulster's Colin Neill said they are "greatly encouraged" by the changes to opening hours over Easter.

"As recognised by the minister, the licensed trade makes a significant contribution to the local economy and plays a vital role in communities throughout Northern Ireland.

"The consultation creates an opportunity to bring about some positive change in the industry by striking a balance between supporting business and creating a safe, regulated environment for people to enjoy.

"Not only that, it also offers the opportunity to modernise the current licensing laws and bring Northern Ireland's night-time economy into the 21st century," he added.

At supermarkets, alcohol-only checkouts would be created, which means anyone wanting to buy drink would have to queue up twice, and a solid wall would be put up between alcohol displays and the shopper.

The consultation is open for 16 weeks.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
30 Comments
Paul in Belfast Entertainment Capital Of Northern Ireland wrote (820 days ago):
Firstly i would like to point out people do drink themselves stupid yeah it happens around the world, its more down to the individual person than the bar,club,or restaurant that supply's the alcohol. The government in Northern Ireland The first minister and deputy minister recently stood and patted themselves on the back at the Titanic exhibition, a £70,000,000 investment for Northern Ireland which they hope will bring tourists flocking to our shores. Now i know not every tourist wants to drink until the early hours of the morning, however in England and Scotland to mention a few, the licensing laws are in keeping with the rest of Europe. I am a taxi driver here in Belfast and have been for 15 years. I have watched as my trade has been taken away by politicians and police cut backs,a force unable and unwilling to supply the necessary policing to ensure our City has a nightlife to be proud of. These people who are objecting to later opening hours, please tell me when was, or when will be the next time you intend to visit a nightclub in the City? How can you object to something you don't even understand, and are completely out of touch from. I have spoke to many many people about this Barmen Waitress, Hotel Staff, Door Staff, Even a friend of mine who works for Guinness, they are all suffering, hours cut some even sacked because of the downturn in the bar industry, this has a knock on affect to us all, less money in their pocket means less money in YOUR pocket not just mine.. And to all the politicians out there sitting in your comfy offices with you summer homes and massive salary's get in touch with the people you claim to represent, you want to try more to bring this country out of a recession not head us for another. To my Taxi customers from London on Saturday evening who wanted me to take them to a them to a Casino or Lap dancing club or somewhere they could have a drink at 1.00am i can only apologize, and wish you a safe journey home to reality
Glenn P in Carrickfergus wrote (820 days ago):
I would just like to agree with most comments on here. Its ridiculous that we are falling behind the rest of Europe with our dark age licensing laws. I think certain responsible venues should be allowed to open a lot later. A lot of the issues with drink is that people race drink into them to beat closing time and therefore they are not moderating their drink, add on top of that the free for all for taxis (which cant cope)and the fights that ensue from that. If certain venues closed later then i genuinely believe there would be a reduction in trouble, a boost for the economy and the police less stretched over the 1am-2pm period
Cahir Statham in Dungannon wrote (820 days ago):
How about we just, for once, be allowed to have a drink in peace without having propaganda shoved down are throats? Is that too much to ask?
sandra woodvale belfast in belfast wrote (821 days ago):
the bar beside my house in the woodvale area stays open every weekend till after 3am the noise from people leaving this social club is a joke
neil in lisburn wrote (821 days ago):
We really need to get with the times, last orders at 11.30pm is light years behind the rest of the world. Not much fun if you are a tourist either.
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