Restaurants condemn Good Friday alcohol ban

Restaurants unfairly disadvantaged, association says


The Restaurants Association of Ireland has called for an end to the Good Friday alcohol ban, which was causing unjustifiable “suffering” to business on religious grounds.

Association chief executive Adrian Cummins said it was an unacceptable and outdated law that was damaging the tourism, restaurant and hospitality industry.

“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.”

In addition to damaging “brand Ireland”, it was depriving businesses and their staff of an income, he said.

“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. Aside from the law showing a 19th-Century image of Ireland to incoming tourists, many restaurants decide to close their doors on Good Friday.”

Restaurateurs were at a disadvantage because some businesses were permitted to serve alcohol on Good Friday, Mr Cummins said. Several greyhound stadiums around Ireland have been granted licenses to serve alcohol on Good Friday. The legislation also provides exemptions allowing the sale of alcohol to those travelling by sea, rail, air or ferry. Drink can also be sold to those attending a licensed theatre. Guests staying in hotels, can be served drink, as long as it is taken with a meal.

“These businesses are working the law and using it to their advantage – why shouldn’t restaurants? It’s tough for all businesses relying on customers to part with their well-earned cash on a long weekend. They cannot afford to open without serving alcohol, and they definitely cannot afford to close either.”

Mr Cummins noted that not only was the sale of alcohol banned in restaurants, the Intoxicating Liquor Act prohibited customers from “bringing your own” bottle.