The Licensed Vinters Association (LVA) say that alcohol licensing laws must be changed ahead of the Ireland versus Switzerland soccer international to be held on Good Friday.
The association which represents Dublin publicans has renewed its call for the Minister for Justice and the Government to introduce legislation to permit trading for all licensed premises on Good Friday as a matter of urgency.
The call follows the announcement that Ireland will play Switzerland in a friendly soccer international at the Aviva Stadium on Good Friday, which falls on the 25th March next year.
The Licensed Vintners Association, which represents 600 Dublin publicans, welcomed the announcement of the soccer friendly and said it will add hugely to the colour of the Easter holiday.
However, the Chief Executive of the LVA, Donall O’Keeffe, described the current situation regarding licensing laws on Good Friday as ludicrous and called on the Government to remove the law immediately.
“Every Good Friday we have tens of thousands of tourists wandering around Dublin asking why they can’t go into a pub for a drink. Now we are going to have up to 50,000 soccer fans facing the same problem. Not to mention the tens of thousands who will want to watch the match in their local pub.
“There is less than four months to go to Easter, there is no real opposition to this measure and we have the Easter 2016 celebrations. It looks like a no brainer, but to date the Government has been dragging its heels on the issue,” he said.
O’Keeffe said the current law amounted to discrimination against the licensed trade and made no financial sense. He said the government had previously indicated that Good Friday trading would be considered in the context of the Sale of Alcohol Bill, but so far nothing has happened.
Earlier this year the LVA made representations to the Government on this very issue in light of the fact that the Ireland 2016 celebrations would have a particular focus on Easter weekend and that it would be hugely embarrassing if this law was still in place for such an important event.
“The Easter 2016 celebrations – and now this soccer international – provide a terrific opportunity to showcase our capital city and it would be ridiculous if the entire hospitality sector was again forced to close on Good Friday.
“It’s estimated that up to a quarter of a million people will pass through Dublin Airport that weekend. Once again they will be faced with locked doors on Good Friday unless the Minister takes action now,” O’Keeffe concluded.