Opinion: It makes sense to call time on Good Friday drinking ban
Every year thousands of tourists wander around our cities and towns asking why they cannot go into a pub for a drink
Visiting a pub is the number on reason people come to Ireland while listening to music in a pub is the number one reason they would return. File photograph: Frank Miller
Charles Lindbergh completed the first solo transatlantic flight in the Spirit of St Louis.
Leon Trotsky was expelled from the Communist Party as Joseph Stalin took control of Russia. Constance Markievicz, who took part in the Easter Rising, died aged 59. Dublin were All-Ireland hurling champions, Kildare won the football and Newcastle United were First Division champions.
It was clearly a different era. It was in fact 1927. That was the year WT Cosgrave’s Cumann na nGaedheal government passed the Intoxicating Liquor Act which prohibited the service of alcohol on Good Friday, Christmas Day and St Patrick’s Day. In a burst of modernism in 1960, a new Bill repealed the St Patrick’s Day ban, giving the national day the same rules for alcohol trade as a Sunday. But changing the law on Good Friday was clearly a bridge too far.
It is ironic as we mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising – much of which will focus on the great strides this country has made over the past 100 years – that this archaic law is still in force.
Have the option
Consumers should have the option to go out for a drink on Good Friday to a bar, restaurant or hotel if they so choose as they can in Belfast, London, Paris or New York.
Ireland is a modern country and a significant proportion of the population now hails from a variety of countries and cultures. Even the Vatican allows alcohol to be sold in bars on Good Friday. It makes no economic sense either with the financial cost to the exchequer through lost VAT and excise estimated to be more than €6 million.
Every year on Good Friday thousands of tourists wander around the streets of our cities and towns asking why they can’t go into a pub for a drink. The folly of the law becomes clear when you consider that research by Fáilte Ireland found visiting a pub is the number one reason people come to Ireland, while listening to music in a pub is the number two reason they would return.
There is a particular urgency around this argument this year with the Ireland 2016 celebrations focusing on Easter and the fact that 50,000 soccer fans will be attending an Ireland versus Switzerland international friendly in the Aviva Stadium on Good Friday, March 25th. The fact that those attending the match will be able to have a drink in the stadium but not outside, shows the illogical nature of this law. But it doesn’t stop there.
If you go to see The Plough and the Stars at the Abbey Theatre on Good Friday you’ll be able to enjoy a drink, while if you travel on a bus, plane, train or ferry you are also free to have a drink at the terminus. Other options include going to the dogs, booking into a hotel and having a drink with your meal or crossing into Northern Ireland.
The law is an assMary FahyLimerickMunsterLeinsterMagners League
This is relatively straightforward, but requires amending legislation to be passed by the Oireachtas. With the election fast approaching, it is essential the Government acts urgently – something it hasn’t done to date – and gets a Bill across the line. The original Act was clearly of its time. That has now passed and it’s #AboutTime for change.
Donall O’Keeffe is chief executive of the Licensed Vintners Association