McDowell outlines plans to reform licenced trade
Licences for continental-style cafe bars and new specific nightclub licences are among the new measures planned by the Minister for Justice in an overhaul the licenced trade.
Michael McDowell said a draft of new legislation bringing all aspects of liquor law under one piece of legislation would be published for consultation in the near future.
"The Government will be in the near future publishing proposals for this new single statute and on a consultative basis the government will be putting this forward to the people for their views", he said, speaking on Today FM this afternoon from Cork where the Progressive Democrats are holding their annual conference.
A key component of the new plans are new licenses allowing cafes to sell alcohol in addition to the present system of pubs.
"We don't want every chipper selling drink across the counter. That would not be a step forward. What we do want to do is break this notion that a place that sells drink does almost nothing else or sells food as an adjunct to selling drink."
Mr McDowell said the proposals were aimed at breaking the "culture of drinking as a dedicated activity". He said the Government wanted to get to the stage where people, particularly young people, could go for a pizza and have a beer in circumstances where drink isn't the focus of all cultural entertainment.
He is also in favour of allowing local authorities to set opening hours. "In think in general terms local authorities should have more input into this than the Government at a National level."
"There are practical considerations to taken into account in relation to policing and I believe that it is for local authorities use their collective judgment as to when they do want night life to be at its height . . . and to use a liberal approach if they want or to adjust it in accordance with the wishes of the local community."
The changes are coming on foot of the findings of the Commission on Liquor Licensing. Chaired by Gordon Holmes, the Commission was established by Mr McDowell's predecessor John O'Donoghue.