Limerick pubs to open for game on Good Friday

 

BARS WILL open on Good Friday evening in Limerick following a ruling at the city’s district court.

Judge Tom O’Donnell ruled yesterday in favour of the city’s publicans, allowing them to open because a Magners League rugby match is taking place that day, April 2nd.

Judge O’Donnell said his decision rested on whether the Munster v Leinster game could be deemed a “special event” and therefore qualify for an area exemption order from licensing laws.

“Having considered all the submissions, I am satisfied that the match has all the vestiges and attributes of a special event, he said.

“I accept that this decision may cause controversy in several quarters and, having considered the arguments, I wish to point out that the District Court is a court of record and not a court of precedent.”

Gardaí objected to the application, taken by local Vintners Federation chairman Jerry O’Dea, on the grounds the match was not a special event as the match took place every year.

Judge O’Donnell said Thomond Park would be serving alcohol as it held a special arena licence.

“It is somewhat absurd that pubs in the locality should be closed when there will be available to 26,000 people the possibility to buy alcohol, if they so wish, in Thomond Park.”

He was sure gardaí were not too keen on having 26,000 people hanging around after the game and would prefer to see the crowd disperse quickly. This was also desirable from the point of view of health and safety, he added.

In order to grant the area an exemption order, a number of criteria had to be met. The application had to be made by the holder of a pub licence and the premises must be outside of Dublin. They also needed the approval of the majority of the publicans in their area. The court had to be satisfied that a special event was taking place and a considerable amount of people would be coming.

Judge O’Donnell said he had heard compelling evidence from Jerry O’Dea, hotel manager Seán Lally and economics adviser Mark O’Connell of BDO Simpson Xavier.

Mr O’Dea detailed how publicans took the court action as a last resort after trying to have the game switched to a different night.

Mr Lally outlined the event’s importance to the hotel industry. The match was as important to Limerick in terms of revenue as a big race day like the Galway Plate was to Galway, he said.

Mark O’Connell said the game was worth up to €7.3 million to the city provided the pubs could open.

Judge O’Donnell said no statutory definition existed for what constituted a special event. He dismissed the case law that was given by both sides, which concerned historic actions about a mart and wedding dance, as irrelevant.

They had involved occasional licences, while the court was dealing with an exemption order for a special event. The licence will run from 6-11.30pm on Good Friday and cover Limerick city and the suburbs of Raheen, Castletroy, Annacotty, Corbally and Dooradoyle.