Bill that permits nightclubs to open till 6am granted Cabinet approval

The legislation is planned to be implemented in 2023

The Bill that permits nightclubs to open till 6am was granted cabinet approval on Tuesday.

The legislation is planned to be implemented in 2023.

The Bill creates a new system of annual permits for late bars and nightclubs to replace the current system where a Special Exemption Order is required every time a venue wants to open after hours. 

Under the new system late bars will remain at 2:30am and nightclubs will have the option of remaining open till 6am with alcohol served till 5am. Nightclubs will need court approval for these permits. 

In order to avail of these permits they will be required to have “CCTV on the premises and have security staff properly accredited with the Private Security Authority ” as well as “20 per cent of their floor allocated for dancing, and a live band or DJ must be playing”.

Also in the Bill off licence opening hours will be standardised across the week. They will have the option of from 10.30am to 10pm seven days a week. This is changing from the current position where these hours apply six hours a week, with Sunday sales only permitted from 12.30pm.

The Bill aims to make development of “night time culture and economy a priority”.

The new rules for nightclubs are aimed at “bigger nightclubs and venues, mainly in cities”.

The General Scheme also proposes an amendment to the so-called ‘extinguishment’ provision, “whereby anyone seeking to open a new premises or an off licence must first purchase a licence from an existing licence holder in order to do so”. It notes that: “This can be an impediment to opening a new pub in towns and villages where some premises have shut, particularly in rural areas.”

Speaking on the Bill Minister for Justice Helen McEntee “I do not believe we need a dramatic increase in the number of new pubs. But, in circumstances where a town has lost its pub, we should acknowledge that the community has lost one of its focal points.”

She noted that “the current system makes it difficult for anyone who wants to open a new pub in towns and villages where a pub has closed its doors”.

McEntee is also proposing a new ‘cultural amenities licence’ for “galleries, theatres, museums and other cultural venues”.

“This will strictly be available for venues where the sale of alcohol is not the main activity on the premises, and is only for the convenience of people attending the venue for another reason – such as an exhibition. And it will only be allowed for a set period of time – between one hour before and one hour after a performance takes place.”

Also speaking on the reforms Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, said: “The reforms set out in the General Scheme on the Sale of Alcohol Bill propose efficiency, transparency and clarity and a streamlining of our antiquated licensing legislation, bringing it into the 21st century.”

“This will allow us to take back our nights and is a crucial milestone for all of those working in the Night-Time Economy and for all of those who have long campaigned for a modernisation of our licensing laws.”

Kate Henshaw

Kate Henshaw is current Editor-in-Chief of Trinity News, and a graduate of Sociology and Social Policy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.