| 7.9°C Belfast

Lifting of Good Friday booze ban ‘puts Ireland on par with Vatican’

The decision is set to have a knock-on effect on the rest of the economy.

Close

Stephen Reynolds, bar manager at the Dawson Lounge in Dublin’s city centre, as the D�il has passed legislation to allow pubs to serve alcohol on Good Friday. (Brian Lawless/PA)

Stephen Reynolds, bar manager at the Dawson Lounge in Dublin’s city centre, as the D�il has passed legislation to allow pubs to serve alcohol on Good Friday. (Brian Lawless/PA)

Stephen Reynolds, bar manager at the Dawson Lounge in Dublin’s city centre, as the D�il has passed legislation to allow pubs to serve alcohol on Good Friday. (Brian Lawless/PA)

A publican has heralded the lifting of the Good Friday booze ban as putting Ireland finally on a par with the Vatican.

Time is to be called on the 90-year prohibition this Easter, after politicians voted in favour of reform.

Ronan Lynch, owner of The Swan pub on Dublin’s Aungier Street,
said the long-awaited shift in licensing laws would be a boon for the hospitality sector and the overall economy.

“They don’t close the pubs in the Vatican on Good Friday and yet we do,” Mr Lynch said.

“It’s my understanding that we’re the only country in the world that closes on Good Friday.

“It’s bananas.

“But that will be consigned to the history books now.”

Close

Ronan Lynch, owner of The Swan Bar in Dublin city centre (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ronan Lynch, owner of The Swan Bar in Dublin city centre (Brian Lawless/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Ronan Lynch, owner of The Swan Bar in Dublin city centre (Brian Lawless/PA)

President Michael D. Higgins is expected to sign the reform into law in the coming days.

Since 1927, Good Friday has been one of only two days of the year when publicans have been obliged to keep their shutters down, the other being Christmas Day.

The new law will give all licensed premises the right to open.

Mr Lynch said the decision would have a knock-on effect on the rest of the economy.

“It is not just about pubs,” he said.

“It is about people eating out, getting taxis, going to restaurants.

“I’ve heard cases of men arriving in Dublin airport on Good Friday and taking the bus to Belfast when they found out the pubs would be closed.”

The change will bring an end to the consternation among tourists who arrive in the country for the Easter weekend.

The Dawson Lounge manager Stephen Reynolds said the lifting of the ban was going to have a massive impact on tourism.

“Lots of tourists visit that weekend, and they’re usually walking around wondering, saying ‘why is nothing open?’ I’ve had to try to explain it [to them] and they just don’t get it,” he said.

But as the seventh generation owner of family-run Dublin pub John Kavanagh, which is known as The Gravediggers, Anthony Kavanagh
said he was somewhat torn by the ban being lifted because it meant they would no longer have a day off.

“From a family point of view, it’s a little bit inconvenient but from an economic, customer and employment point of view it makes sense,” Mr Kavanagh said.

Publican groups, frustrated by the restrictions, have been lobbying for change for years.

Licensed Vintners Association chief executive Donall O’Keeffe said the extra day’s trade would be a welcome boost to the sector.

“This change is a win for our customers, our tourists, our suppliers and the wider hospitality sector,” Mr O’Keeffe said.

“The fact the Bill received all-party support illustrates there is little opposition to Good Friday trading, as has always been the case for retailers in other sectors.”

Fianna Fail TD Jim O’Callaghan said it was sensible to remove the prohibition.

A loophole in the current law allowed alcohol to be sold under certain circumstances on Good Friday.

“It used to be the case that people would go to the dog show where you could buy alcohol and get a drink on Good Friday,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

“There were occasions where people would go on the train, if you had a ticket for the train, you could buy alcohol on the train.

“We’ve also heard examples of people, when they go into restaurants, maybe putting wine in the teapot, which really undermined the law.”

He added a ban on selling alcohol on St Patrick’s Day was removed because of its impact on tourism.

PA