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Consultation launched to change alcohol licensing laws for outdoor stadiums in Northern Ireland

It has been triggered by the recently developed Kingspan Stadium, Casement Park and the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park

By Claire Williamson

Published 06/10/2015

Sport via Presseye - Kevin Scott / INPHO
Friday 27th February 2015 - Kingspan Stadium in South Belfast
General views of the Kingspan Rugby Stadium in South Belfast, home of Ulster Rugby. Pictured is the Premium stand, the grandstand and the family stand
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye / INPHO
Sport via Presseye - Kevin Scott / INPHO Friday 27th February 2015 - Kingspan Stadium in South Belfast General views of the Kingspan Rugby Stadium in South Belfast, home of Ulster Rugby. Pictured is the Premium stand, the grandstand and the family stand Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye / INPHO

Changes are being proposed to the current alcohol licensing laws for outdoor stadiums in Northern Ireland.

Alliance MLA Judith Cochrane has launched a consultation with the aim of allowing the venues to hold a full and permanent licence.

Large stadiums such as the recently developed Kingspan Stadium, are a new type of facility for Northern Ireland and are not included in the list of premises which can make an application for a liquor licence, other than an occasional licence.

The Kingspan Stadium, formerly known as Ravenhill, currently relies on the use of occasional licences to allow the sale and consumption of alcohol on the premises.

To obtain it they must apply to the courts each time.

The East Belfast MLA said the consultation was triggered by the redevelopment of the three main outdoor stadiums in Northern Ireland, namely Kingspan Stadium, Casement Park and the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park - and the dissatisfaction with current arrangements permitting the sale and consumption of alcohol.

Ms Cochrane said it would help "change the current set-up here" where the legislation regulating the sale and consumption does not currently allow an outdoor area to apply to hold a full licence.

The East Belfast MLA said her consultation could lead to a minor alteration to licensing laws which could boost the chances of stadiums hosting major events.

She said: "Our licensing laws have changed little since 1996 but Northern Ireland is a very different place today. We have a proud record of hosting world-class sporting events but our stadia could be prevented from maximising opportunities due to current restrictions.

“Ultimately, licensing laws need to balance the need to protect the public’s health and the need to operate business, and I believe we struck that in 2004 when changes were made to allow indoor arenas in Northern Ireland to apply for a liquor licence.

“State-of-the-art multi-use stadia are not covered by the current legislation. A large amount of public money has been allocated to redevelop them but unless this change happens, we will not see them realise their full potential.”

The MLA stated that the existing safeguards in the Licensing Order would also apply to the outdoor stadiums.

To read the full consultation proposal click here

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