Good Friday alcohol ban 'to cost restaurant sector €15m'

Restaurants Association of Ireland calls for ’archaic’ ban to be lifted

The Intoxicating Liquor Act, when introduced in 1927, said alcoholic drinks could not be sold on Christmas Day, Good Friday and St Patrick’s Day. The St Patrick’s Day clause was repealed in 1960 to accommodate visitors coming from overseas to celebrate the national holiday

The Intoxicating Liquor Act, when introduced in 1927, said alcoholic drinks could not be sold on Christmas Day, Good Friday and St Patrick’s Day. The St Patrick’s Day clause was repealed in 1960 to accommodate visitors coming from overseas to celebrate the national holiday

 

The ban on alcohol sales on Good Friday is set to cost the restaurant sector €15 million in revenue, the Restaurants Association of Ireland has claimed.

Condemning the ban on sales, the organisation’s chief executive Adrian Cummins said the ban also damaged the country’s image overseas.

“This law affects more than just the diners who want a drink; it affects thousands of restaurant employees on a busy weekend when restaurants simply won’t open. It is unacceptable to have this archaic ban in place on religious grounds, especially in the multi-cultural and multi-religious society that Ireland has become,” said Mr Cummins.

“Ireland must be the only country in the world that has a bank holiday weekend and actually chooses to close the tourist attractions it is best known for- the centres of craic and ceol- the restaurants and pubs of the country. Even the Vatican City doesn’t obey this ridiculous law,” he added.

Among those affected by the ban on alchol sales is The Tannery in Dungarvan. Owned by Paul and Máire Flynn, the restaurant was closed on Good Friday.

“I am so annoyed about the legislation because it seems to be policed differently depending on the jurisdiction. In some major tourism areas restaurants are able to open on Good Friday and sell alcohol with the authorities turning a blind eye to it. However, we have been told on numerous occasions by local gardai that we are not allowed to trade on a licensed premises at all. It appears that across the country some restaurants are allowed to open on Good Friday but not sell alcohol, some are not allowed to open at all and others are allowed to open and sell what they want,” she said.

“It is very frustrating because this weekend is a major holiday and is one in which we would have been full in the restaurant and with people staying in our rooms. From a tourism point of view it is simply bananas because we’re trying to build it up and then people are simply incredulous when you have to inform them that we won’t be open. It’s such an archaic piece of legislation and it really is time that something was done about it,” she added.

The Intoxicating Liquor Act, when introduced in 1927, said alcoholic drinks could not be sold on Christmas Day, Good Friday and St Patrick’s Day. The St Patrick’s Day clause was repealed in 1960 to accommodate visitors coming from overseas to celebrate the national holiday.

There are some exemptions to the ban with the sale of alcohol permitted to passengers travelling by air, sea and rail on the day. People can also be sold alcohol while attending a licensed theatre, a national cultural institution or as guests staying in a licensed premises, such as a hotel, as long as it is with a meal.

Publicans met with Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald earlier in the year to call for the lifting of the alcohol ban. They claimed that tourists “were baffled and disappointed” to find the country’s pubs closed for business on Good Friday.

Representatives from the hospitality sector said the issue of the ban was especially important this year given that Leinster and Bath are to meet in rugby’s European Champions Cup in Dublin this weekend.

However, a new survey conducted by Ignite Research shows that just 36 per cent of Irish people believe the ban should be lifted.