Belfast Telegraph

Bar owners angry over drink licence for Derry's festive market

By Donna Deeney

Derry City Council’s decision to approve an alcohol licence at the Christmas market has been met with fury by the local Vintners’ Association.

The bar owners say it will cause untold damage to an already struggling city centre pub trade.

The Christmas market has proved a huge hit with shoppers since it began.

Responding to demand from the public, the council has extended this year's event to the full continental market enjoyed by many cities throughout the UK.

It will now be in the city for three weeks in the run-up to Christmas and will include 40 stalls selling a range of festive and speciality goods, but also a stall licenced to sell ‘festive themed, mulled wine'.

The licence for this operator is expected to be granted at Londonderry Magistrates’ Court tomorrow.

Senior Economic Development Officer at Derry City Council, Tony Monaghan, said it accepts the concept of the continental market comes with a complimentary bar element.

He said: “Derry City Council is aware of the desire to have the continental market in the city from the general public and this is a response to that desire.

“The operator came to us with a complete package which included a complimentary bar element and if we want to be truly continental and live up to the accolade bestowed on us this week by the Lonely Planet, this element should be included.

“We see this as a real opportunity for all the traders in the city to make the most of the increased footfall as a result.”

However, the bar element has provoked anger from local pub owners who say the council is failing them.

Chairman of the Derry Vintners Association, Gerry McCloskey (left), wants the council to withdraw its approval for this licence.

He said: “Derry City Council would do better to look after the bar owners who for 52 weeks of the year pay their rates but who are struggling to survive in a difficult economic climate.

“In the past 18 months six bars in the city centre have gone out of business.

“There are 10 bars within easy access of where the market will be so there is no need for a bar to be included in the market.”

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