Belfast Telegraph

Belfast's bars vent their anger at Easter pub opening hours

By Claire Cromie

Belfast's bar and restaurant owners have today been venting their anger online at Northern Ireland's strict Easter pub opening hours.

Alcohol can only be served between 5 and 11pm today - Good Friday.

Bars had to stop serving at midnight last night (Thursday) and will do so again on Saturday. On Easter Sunday they must stop serving alcohol at 10pm.

Frustrations have been growing for years within the drinks trade, with business owners arguing that religious beliefs should not hamper the nighttime economy.

During a recent public consultation on licensing laws, which closed in November 2012, the DUP Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland proposed extending opening hours over the Easter period.

But any changes are yet to be seen.

And this year publicans have taken to social media to have their say, using the hashtag #blameNelson.

Cafe Vaudeville posted on Twitter and Facebook: "Caffeine kicks & soft drinks only until 5pm #BlameNelson don't u just love Easter trading"

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A Twitter user called ‏@belfastbarman pointed out the inconsistency in the legislation, which does not apply to off licences or supermarkets.

He said: "Currently, Asda will sell u a 75cl of Sparkling Rose for £3. Whereas all I can do is look at you pathetically and say sorry.#BlameNelson"

The Spaniard tweeted: "We love rum and would love to give you some. S #blameNelson"

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The public also joined in, with many complaining that they were unable to enjoy a pint in a beer garden on the hottest day of the year so far.

@vidalmonty tweeted: "Fancied going to a beer garden today but can't due to stupid Northern Ireland laws. #BlameNelson"

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‏@DavidNeely_ said: "Feel sorry for all the bar staff today who have to explain time after time to tourists that they can't serve alcohol until 5pm #blamenelson"

‏@jbscript gave his take: "Respect: "I don't X because I think it disrespects Y". Disrespect: "You're not *allowed* to X because I think it disrespects Y" #BlameNelson"

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Further reading:

Let's all raise a glass to Nelson McCausland and his holy crusade

Late pub opening hours considered

Restricted Easter opening costs pub £10k

Drinking hours reform delay praised 

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