Independent TD Mattie McGrath has hit out at Taoiseach Micheál Martin on new pub opening times approved by the government, calling the proposal “mad.”
Under new legislation, pubs will be able to open from 10:30 am to 12:30 am seven days a week, while nightclubs can remain open until 6:00 am. Such venues will be banned from serving alcohol after 5am, but dancing and socialising will be allowed for a further hour.
There are also proposed changes to the way pub licensing will operate, which will make it easier for venues to acquire licences.
The proposal has proved controversial, however, with some rural pubs reportedly saying that they can’t afford to stay open into the late hours and thus won’t benefit from the policy.
“It makes no sense at all, it sounds like it is good for the night-time economy but we will still be closing the doors at 10pm,” said Independent Cllr. Niall O’Callaghan, who runs the Fáilte in Killarney.
Rural pubs can’t afford to stay open later say Kerry publicanshttps://t.co/GLi3zJGJlc
— The Kerryman (@kerryman_ie) October 26, 2022
“There is no spending power on the street and the longer we open the bigger expense it is on the business.”
Speaking in the Dáil, this week, Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath further slammed the policy, saying it would “undermine” publicans.
“In the middle of acute crises in housing and health, as well as the total mess the Government has made of the refugee situation, have the Taoiseach and the Cabinet nothing better to do than try to undermine and destroy publicans throughout the country?” McGrath said.
“That is what the Government is doing with its proposals for late openings up to the morning in cities and big places, opening the pubs earlier in the morning in the country and deregulating the licences. That is what I understand the Government is trying to do.
“…These are family businesses in many cases have that have given excellent service for generations and support their communities in every way. It looks like the Government is going to give a licence to anybody to have a bar now.”
McGrath added: “Has the Government nothing else to do, with the crimes statistics and everything else, only come up with these mad proposals in a time of crisis? Is it just a distraction it is trying to create?
“The Taoiseach has six weeks left in office. Is that going to be his legacy, that he will not deal with any of the serious problems but will bring in all the sideline stuff that nobody wants and nobody is interested in? It is only going to destroy our young people and our countryside.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin defended the policy, however, saying “There is no shortage and no challenge or difficulty in accessing alcohol in the country. If we did nothing, there would be no issue accessing alcohol.”
He went on to explain the rationale further.
“What the Minister for Justice brought forward, and what the Government is supporting, is legislation for how we regulate that, identify venues and locations, and the conditions and the framework around that,” he said.
“Some organisations in the hospitality sector are welcoming this. Others may not. Regarding the points the Deputy made, I presume he is talking about the extinguishing of licences. Again, there are conditions attached to that.”
The Taoiseach accused McGrath of being “a bit overdramatic,” to which McGrath responded “it will destroy our country,” adding “you will be gone.”