Irish hospitality reacts to new late licensing reform

By Sadhbh McDonnell

On the 25th of October, the Irish Government announced later closing times for pubs and clubs around Ireland, as part of a major new overhaul of licensing laws in Ireland.

The new reform has been brought forward by Justice Minister Helen McEntee in hopes to modernise Ireland’s laws around nightlife, which can be seen as ‘outdated’ compared to several other neighbouring European Countries.  

Since the reform proposal, the Government have additionally announced 433 Irish locations were granted The Night-Time Economy Support Scheme. Each location received up to €10,000 in funding.  

While the people of Ireland will hopefully be allowed to stay out dancing as late as 6am across the country by 2023, what does this mean for workers within the Irish nightlife sector?

Multi-Genre Electronic Music DJ Kaycee has played some of Ireland’s most infamous dance venues including Index, The Sugar Club, as well as popular Irish festivals such as Life festival in Belvedere, Co. Westmeath and Fuinneamh Festival in Dundalk Co. Louth. 

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DJ Kaycee via Instagram

In a recent interview with TheCity.ie, Kaycee explained how longer opening hours for clubs means there’ll be much bigger lineups for events, “which will be fantastic for local acts to be given a chance.” 

Not only will this be beneficial for the growth of Ireland’s small dance scene but for DJs like Kaycee, it also means longer set times, giving them more time to showcase a larger variety of genres. 

“It’s really an opportunity to bring the crowd on a journey through an exceptionally well-built set instead of cramming as many tracks in as possible.”

Reactions to the proposed new opening hours for pubs and clubs have been widely positive, with many people agreeing that Irish nightlife could aid Ireland’s economic growth and aligns it with the rest of Europe’s nightlife culture. 

However, this economic sector has been left decaying for so long that issues around transport, venues, accessibility, and safety have begun to surface. For the Irish economy to reap the benefits of this new legislation, the government must also modernise public services, with a large overhaul needed for the current existing structures. 

A common concern for many DJs and workers in the hospitality sector is the lack of transport in and around Dublin city centre. 

DJ Richard Tracey, who plays venues such as The Academy and Lost Lane weekly, discussed the need for better after-hour transport links. “The taxi service in Ireland is an absolute joke, particularly in Dublin.”

He added that it’d be nice to have the option to leave the car at home and get a bus or taxi, to and from work, but the lack of taxis and public transport services makes it “next to impossible to find a lift home” on a Saturday night.

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DJ Richard Tracey via Instagram

Questions about how pub and club owners will accommodate their staff, working these unsociable hours, have also been a growing concern.

TU Dublin student, David Bohan, who has worked in hospitality for over 3 years, admitted to the possibility of having to find new work outside the sector.  He explained how, like many people in the hospitality industry, working most days till 2-3AM, whilst needing to be up for a 9AM lecture, “would certainly have a negative effect on my studies.”

It’s possible these new opening hours will remain a niche option for clubs, with most only availing of it for special occasions and big events.  However many hope in time, once most of the social concerns have been addressed, we will see Ireland showcasing talent from all around the world.

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