Hospitality industry welcomes vow from all local parties to reform licensing laws
Northern Ireland's political parties have committed to reforming licensing laws here when power-sharing is restored, a hospitality chief has said.
The news comes after the Department for Communities concluded - just ahead of the 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush - from a public consultation that changing the laws to allow the supply of alcohol at 'special events' would be beneficial to the economy.
While the move is thought to specifically cater for The Open, there have been calls for rules to be relaxed for all pubs, restaurants and hotels.
Liquor licensing laws here are much more restrictive than in the rest of the UK, with opening times and permissible locations strictly regulated.
Colin Neill, chief executive of trade body Hospitality Ulster, said it has received written confirmation from the five main political parties that the laws will be reformed when Stormont is back up and running.
"We also have to remember that the Bill to push forward the reforms had already been introduced to the last Assembly prior to its collapse, so much of the heavy lifting in terms of drafting had already been carried out," he said.
"This has been a win-win situation for both the implementation of the recommendations from the special events consultation, and more importantly for the wholesale reform of liquor licensing in Northern Ireland.
"The political parties are now on record with their commitment and we look forward to swift and effective legislative progress.
"It remains in our interest that Stormont gets back up and running and assists a sector that drives the economy to the tune of £1.2bn per annum and promotes our international reputation."