Minister Naughton announces reform of alcohol licensing law



15 September 2021


The Minister of State with responsibility for Civil and Criminal Justice, Hildegarde Naughton, TD, has today received Government approval to draft the General Scheme of the Sale of Alcohol Bill 2021 to reform and modernise licensing laws in Ireland.


Speaking after Cabinet, Minister 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.”


“The outdated Licensing Acts, Registration of Clubs Acts, and the Public Dance Hall Act 1935, will all be repealed and replaced with updated and streamlined 21st century provisions relating to the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol in licensed premises and registered clubs. This will radically reform, streamline and simplify our licensing laws.


Currently, there are many different types of alcohol licences available in Ireland and the variety of licences that a venue or premises selling alcohol can have is quite broad. It is intended to streamline and re-categorise the types of licences available to establishments to ensure a more open and coherent process while still ensuring that the sale of alcohol can continue to be controlled appropriately.


To meet the needs of new areas of activity in the hospitality sector, new categories of licences may also be required and this will be considered in the drafting of the Bill. Other issues to be considered include trading hours and ways to modernise and streamline the licensing application process.


Minister Naughton was also mindful of the potential harmful effects of alcohol consumption, noting:


In modernising this industry it will be crucial that public health needs and the needs of residents are taken into account. Reform will be developed with a supportive approach to businesses, and the interests of public health, consumers and communities will be central to its implementation.


“During the detailed consideration of these legislative proposals it will be important to obtain the views of these important groups and I intend to consult with relevant stakeholders.”


Separately, Minister Catherine Martin has today published the Report and recommendations of the Night-Time Economy Taskforce. Minister Naughton welcomed the publication of the Report, saying:


“In parallel with the work of the Night-Time Economy Taskforce being taken forward by Minister Catherine Martin, I want to ensure that our licensing laws help to support the ambitious range of actions recommended by the Taskforce to develop a more vibrant night-life in our cities and towns.”


“For example, by making it easier for cultural venues such as theatres, galleries and exhibition spaces to get licences, we can broaden the range of night time and cultural offerings.”


A targeted consultation process, focused on alcohol licensing reform, will be undertaken with relevant stakeholders. The Minister’s intention is that a General Scheme of the Sale of Alcohol Bill 2021 will be submitted to Government before the end of this year for priority drafting, with the Bill expected to be published next year.