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Here are the changes the government is planning to bring in to allow nightclubs to stay open to 6am

Here are the changes the government is planning to bring in to allow nightclubs to stay open to 6am

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Over the weekend, news emerged that the government has given its strongest indication yet that extended nightlife hours beyond its current 3am to 6am is on the cards.

While nothing has been confirmed 100% yet and this has come up before, indicators from Government sources in the media says that updated legislation are due to be published “within weeks” by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, which will then be brought before the Oireachtas before it breaks for summer recess.

Specifics are yet to be determined but here’s what the proposed changes could look like:

  • Nightclubs would operate at different hours to pubs and late bars and it will involve a special nightclub permit, with a 6am closure possible in some instances.
  • The €410 special exemption order (SEOs) that nightclubs have to get in a court appearance by an appointed lawyer so they can open to 2:30am/3am could be be abolished – they were waived since October until this past week due to the pandemic.
  • The Public Dancing Licence of 1935 looks like it will be abolished.
  • As recommended by the Night-time Economy Taskforce, there would be an increase of 24 hour bus routes and public transport options too from Dublin to regional cities and towns including Route 101 affecting Dundalk, Drogheda, Naas and Newbridge.
  • Late bar hours could also be positively affected
  • It is believed these changes could be in place by the end of 2022.

Also possibly on the cards as previously suggested:

  • Sunday pub opening hours to be extended to fall in line with the rest of the week – 12:30am.
  • Staggered closing times to stop the overwhelming influx of people at once into the streets.
  • New categories for alcohol licences for cultural venues like art galleries, theatres and sporting arenas as part of the Sale of Alcohol Bill.

As we discussed extensively here before, Ireland’s stringent licensing laws cna go back to 1833 and 1935 and have long hampered a thriving nightlife scene, placing unnecessary financial burdens and hoop-jumping on opening per night (a €410 special exemption order to open late per night only available by a court appearance for example).

“I don’t think anything can derail the momentum that is now behind this will for change both from the public and from within the Government as well,” Sunil Sharpe, of the Give Us the Night campaign, told Newstalk.  “But the Government has to be strong on this. In the past there were last ditch attempts to derail licensing bills and the current licensing bill that we’re talking about – the Sale of Alcohol bill – was first drafted back in 2005 That’s how long this has taken to be pushed through.” . 

The government ran a public consultation in January which received 5000 submissions, for which we talked to Sunil and Robbie Kitt from The Irish nightlife campaign Give Us The Night about the issues.

Give Us The Night has been instrumental in communicating to the government about the need for legislative change when it comes to licensing. They echoed a cautiously optimistic note about the latest news:

In February, Give Us The Night said that four out of five nightclubs in Ireland that were open at the turn of the millennium have since shut down.

Additionally pre-pandemic, Give Us The Night says there were 95 nightclubs around the country with 30 nightclubs in Dublin and 65 nationwide, an 84% percent drop of clubs since the millennium.