'You'd swear we were after winning an All Ireland'
A Limerick publican has said the legislation banning pubs from opening on Good Friday may have to be changed after a district court judge ruled that pubs in the city can open on April 2nd.
David Hickey, the owner of South’s bar on O’Connell Avenue and a senior member of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland, said the ruling was “history being made”.
“It is the first time in the history of the State that pubs will be open on Good Friday in any part of the country.”
“This could be the beginning of the end of [the alcohol ban on] Good Friday because now legislation will have to be changed and the option should be given to let publicans open if they want to and close if they want to,” he said.
The ruling applies to approximately 110 pubs in the city centre, an area stretching from Castletroy to Raheen and Corbally. Although the application sought to include pubs in Limerick county, they were excluded by the Judge Tom O'Donnell in his ruling this morning.
Mr Hickey said he expected all the pubs covered by the ruling to open: “They all supported the application 100 per cent. People now might decide to come to Limerick for the weekend, and play a round of golf or whatever.”
“The locals are thrilled. The excitement in Limerick this morning; you’d swear we were after winning an All Ireland. There is a joke going around: 'We don’t have a bishop or a minister in Limerick but the pubs will be open on Good Friday'."
He said there had been interest in the application from publicans in other parts of the country. “We have had a lot of publicans from outside Limerick congratulate us. I'd say some of them would be looking at what happened today and thinking about doing it themselves.”
Publicans estimate that the decision could be worth between €6 and €7 million to the city.
Mr Hickey said he did not expect an objection to the ruling. “Counsel for the State was in court today and he raised no objection”.
“The judge said it was absurd that the pubs in Limerick couldn’t open and pubs in the confines of the stadium and in two clubs could open.
“On health and safety grounds he didn’t think 26,000 people trying to get a drink in those venues was right and he decided on health and safety grounds he said level it out and let people decide themselves where they want to drink,” Mr Hickey said.
He added that unless there was another large event planned for Good Friday next year he did not expect Limerick publications to make a similar application.
The move to open on the holy day had sparked controversy in the city and the issue has been hotly debated.
Franciscan friars, whose friary is located in Moyross, in the shadow of Thomond Park, had called on Catholics to boycott the game. They are considering holding a prayer vigil outside to bear witness, they say, to the true meaning of the day.
Prior to today’s ruling Brother Shawn O’Connor said they may re-enact the stations of the cross outside Thomond Park as up to 26,000 fans throng the stadium.
“It really shows you who you are worshipping, is it God or is it mammon?" asked Br O’Connor earlier this month.
"This is like something out of the Old Testament. If you’re going against God and making a public stand about it, then you are serving mammon over God. I don’t care how much money you pull in, it will backfire on you on a spiritual level.”
He warned that those who attended the game had no right to call themselves Catholics.
“Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the most solemn days in the whole Christian calendar. I don’t think you have the right to call yourself a Catholic if you go to this match.”