Time to Sober Up Dublin!


New liquor laws came into effect on Friday July 30th at midnight. The Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008, which seems to have slipped quietly under the radar of the alcohol-consuming public, includes the following changes:

New hours for off sales of alcohol.
• Tougher public order provisions allowing the Gardaí to seize alcohol from minors.
• A court procedure to secure a new wine-only off-licence.
• New grounds for objection to the granting of an off-licence.
• New conditions attaching to the granting of a special exemption order, and
• Holders of theatre licences will be restricted to the normal licensing hours unless additional hours are sanctioned by a special exemption order.

What this basically means people, is that we are being governmentally prevented from getting our drink on in the manner to which we have become accustomed. Now, I’m all for preventing underage drinking, but surely we could take a little guidance from our continental counterparts and encourage the education of children towards the dangers of over-indulgence and ensure more vigilant publicans and off-licence staff rather than giving the oul Gardai free reign to bait the shite out of poor little Timmy who’s been caught with a couple of cans of Dutchy down the shelters because he promised his ma he wouldn’t break ‘The Pledge’.

The bill also abolishes theatre licences, ensuring that all nightclubs, late bars and theatre bars now close at 2.30am. Currently in Ireland, we have relatively staggered closing hours, with pubs closing at 12.30am, late bars at 2.30am, and nightclubs and theatre bars at 3.30am. This sequential system has been found to reduce public order offences [UK Institute of Alcohol Studies], whereas there is no evidence to support the proposal that the new system of having a blanket closing time will have the same effect. The bill that has been passed effectively forces punters into the streets at the same time, putting added strain on taxi services, fast food outlets and local emergency services and gardai. Surely I am not the only one who can see that 1000’s of drunken Dubliners conglomerating on the banks of the Liffey to fight over a taxi or push their way up the que in Rik’s Burgers is going to cause more than a few squabbles? Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform, Dermot Ahern, doesn’t seem to think so. According to Deputy Ahern, “people would be staggering from premises to premises if we gave an opportunity to go from bar to late bar and then on to nightclubs”. Now, I am perfectly aware that we didn’t earn our reputation as a nation of drinkers for nothing, but since when is Dermot Ahern judge and jury in charge of enforcing punishment upon us for being fond of the sauce every once in a while? In the wise words of a friend, Ireland has grown into a “fierce progressive place”, and we’re no longer a nation of Jemmy-swilling ogre’s who need constant monitoring. As things were, revellers could finish up their drinks in their boozer of choice and then choose to either head to a nightclub/late bar/whatever or do a legger home. I’ll be the first to admit to occasionally succumbing to the alluring charms of The Gaiety and it’s promise of warm beer in plastic cups at 2.30 of a Sunday morning, but 9 times out of 10 the sight of a yellow taxi light taking the corner at Stephen’s Street is enough to have me skidding through the rain in 6 inch heels and hurling myself in front of said taxi screaming at the occupant to ‘take me home for the love of god’. My point is, most people know when its time to go home. Ok, there’s always going to be the odd hen party bride or drunken suit who’s been slumped at the bar in Cocoon since leaving Deloitte & Touche at 5 o’clock that evening – but if someone is determined to find the next drink, they’ll find it regardless. All the new licensing laws are doing is encouraging house parties, and in return domestic disturbance and neighbours from hell scenarios, along with turfing a load of drunk people out onto the streets of Dublin to make their way home in a city with an already sub-standard transport system.

The bill also prevents off-licences opening beyond 10pm 7 days a week with no exceptions. So if you decide to be a good little civilian and sit down to watch an RTE Saturday Night Movie rather than partaking in the nation’s apparent past-time of choice – binge drinking – you are no longer given the option to pop down the offie for a bottle of cab sav to accompany the giant bar of galaxy that you purchased for the occasion. Tough – you should’ve thought of it earlier.

Not to mention the fact that most nightclubs and theatre-licence holders will be losing an average of 8 hours business per week – with many of them choosing now to not open at all on a Sunday as they will have to close at 1am on ‘the Sabbath’. In a time of imminent recession, it hardly seems clever to be limiting the business hours of one of our most profitable industries now does it?

Call me a sceptic, but as far as I can see the new act achieves nothing but a quick fix to an age old problems. I’d love to stay and hash out some alternatives for our government to mull over between tribunals but it’s nearly 9.30 so I’ve to get myself down to the offo STAT.

2 Comments so far

  1. Joann Landers (joannlanders) on August 15th, 2008 @ 5:51 am

    Good post – As a Yellow Cab driver I’m glad to help those ‘that know when it is time to go home’.

  2. sheena on August 15th, 2008 @ 9:14 am

    Thanks Joann :)

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