Taoiseach says 6am closing times for clubs unlikely to come in until next summer

By Katy Thornton

August 3, 2023 at 9:39am


We're going to be waiting a good bit longer for party time to last until the wee hours of the morning.

Following years of lockdowns and the closure of the night life industry in Ireland, the news that clubs could get new licensing to stay open as late as 6am if they so choose was welcome news indeed.

The current system is made up of a "patchwork of 100 laws", some of which are over 200 years old, with two thirds pre-dating the foundation of the State 100 years ago.

Reforms to come into place include alcohol being sold earlier on a Sunday and, as you've probably heard, nightclubs being allowed to remain open until 6.00. McEntee believes changes such as these will "support the development of night time culture and the night time economy".

However, while we expected these changes to be in place by now, according to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, we're going to be waiting a good bit longer for party time that lasts until the wee hours of the morning.

Speaking of the new legislation, Varadkar adjusted expectations of when we could expect these changes.


"I think it’s unlikely to be the case for Christmas, you know that would mean getting the legislation published and enacted before Christmas and, even when it is enacted, it’s the whole licensing system that has to be gone through."

What to expect from the new legislation

Annual Permits for late night bars 


The permits would replace the current system where a Special Exemption Order (SEO) is required every time a venue wants to open after normal hours. This builds on previous measures introduced by the government to support the late night sector, such as the decision to halve the cost of SEOs in Budget 2023.

6.00 closing times for night clubs 

The reform intends to bring Ireland up to speed with other European countries, giving nightclubs the option to serve alcohol til 5am and remain open until 6.00 for dancing. Late bars will be permitted to open until 2.30.

Strict requirements

Nightclubs and late bars will have to adhere to strict requirements to avail of these permits. They will require court approval, and objections will be allowed from fire authorities, the HSE, An Garda Síochána and local communities.


Other requirements include:

  • CCTV on the premises, and nightclubs and bars must also have security staff properly accredited with the Private Security Authority.
  • 20% of the floor allocated for dancing, and a live band or DJ must be playing
  • All venues must protect staff, patrons and performers from harassment, including sexual harassment in line with the new Night Time Economy Charter and the government’s Zero Tolerance Plan to tackle Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based violence

Off license opening hours 

Off licences and supermarkets will have the option of selling alcohol from 10.30am to 10pm seven days a week. This is a change from the current position where these hours apply six hours a week, with Sunday sales only permitted from 12.30pm on Sunday.

Reform of the 'extinguishment’ provision


The so-called extinguishment provision means that 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. This can be an issue for opening a new pub in towns and villages where some premises have shut, particularly in rural areas.

After a transition period of three years following the enactment of the Bill, Minister McEntee proposes to remove the extinguishment requirement to obtain a seven day on licence.

However, the ‘extinguishment’ requirement will remain in place for off licences, and will only be applicable to licences already in existence on the enactment of this Bill. No new licences granted under this Bill could be sold for extinguishment purposes.

New “cultural amenity licence” for cultural venues

This new license will permit galleries, theatres, museums and other cultural venues to sell alcohol between one hour before and one hour after a performance takes place. These licences will also require court approval and will have to meet the same requirements as a fully licensed premises, and will strictly be available for venues where the sale of alcohol is not the main activity on the premises - people must be attending the venue for a separate reason, eg, an exhibition.

Header image via Instagram / Copper Face Jacks



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