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05th Apr 2022

Everything you need to know about the proposed 6am closing time for nightclubs

Fiona Frawley

dj decks and a person holding headphones at a nightclub

A reform of Ireland’s “antiquated” alcohol licensing laws is expected within the coming weeks.

The news of a proposed 6am closing time for nightclubs in Ireland has been met with mixed reviews.

There are people like me who haven’t managed to stay out longer than 2am since 2012 and probably won’t even notice the extension, there are those who’ve sorely missed clubbing culture over the last two years and are more than ready for dancing well into the morning, and those wondering how a 6am closing time is feasible with the decline of nightclubs in Ireland over the last few years paired with the mammoth task of trying to obtain a taxi on a Saturday night.

In any case, the reform of Ireland’s alcohol licensing laws is expected to be imminent and will bring with it changes to the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol in licensed premises and registered clubs. This is expected to include nightclubs opening til 6am.

Justice Plan

As part of the Justice Plan 2022 published by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee last week, new laws are expected to be enacted to update and modernise licensing law through the Sale of Alcohol Bill.

Under the current laws, nightclubs and late bars can stay open until 2.30am if they obtain a Special Exemption Order from their local district court, at a cost of €410 per night. Venues are also required to have a Public Dancing Licence – but the new laws would see this abolished.

Alcohol licensing law reform

At the launch of the reform last September, Minister Hildegarde Naughton said:

This is a landmark moment in the reform of our licensing laws, some of which date as far back as 1833 and no longer reflect the dynamic and diverse society and economy that we have become.

“We committed to modernising and reforming our licensing laws in the Justice Plan 2021, as announced by Minister Helen McEntee earlier this year. Today, we are delivering on the first stage of that commitment and setting a course for how we will do it.

She said that the “outdated” Licensing Acts, Registration of Clubs Acts, and the Public Dance Hall Act 1935 will be repealed and replaced with “updated and streamlined 21st century provisions” regarding the sale and consumption of alcohol in licensed premises. She added that she hoped the reform would “develop a more vibrant night-life in our cities and towns.”

There are currently many different types of alcohol licences available in Ireland, and the variety of licences that a venue or premises selling alcohol can have is very broad.

A re-categorising of the types of licenses available would see a more open and coherent process while still ensuring that the sale of alcohol can continue to be controlled appropriately, according to the 2021 report.

The bill is expected to be published in the coming weeks.

Header image via Shutterstock 

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