Pubs may open on Good Friday next year for the first time since 1927
Senator David Norris has lashed out at plans to end a 90-year-old ban on the sale of alcohol on Good Friday.
It is understood the government will not oppose a bill put forward by independent senators calling for the restriction to be abolished.
If the bill is accepted when it comes before the Dáil later this year, Good Friday 2018 will see pubs open for the first time since 1927.
On Thursday's Pat Kenny Show, Senator Norris said the push to lift the ban is motivated by “greed” and “political correctness.”
“I honestly think that when we have 363 days of drinking all over the place and the licensing hours extended until all hours of the day and night in a country that has a very, very serious drinking problem - I think the last thing we need is another day of alcohol,” he said.
He said he views the move as part of a “gradual lessening of our cultural identity” – pointing to recent census figures showing that approximately 80% of people in Ireland identify as some form of Christian.
“I really don’t want to see Ireland turned into a bland theme park full of plastic shillelaghs; people drinking on Good Friday and squashy green top hats,” he said.
“I think apart altogether from the religious thing [...] the human animal needs time for rest and recreation and I don’t want to live in a bland theme park here in this country where it is the same as every other country.”
He also claimed there is “absolutely no proof” that the ban has any effect whatsoever on tourism – adding that when it comes to visitors arriving in to Temple Bar for a boozy weekend, “the less we have of them the better.”
“I have to say, I don’t think very highly of these stag and hen parties, they misbehave and they are not the kind of tourist we want,” he said.
“Everything seems to be under attack at the moment and they are using tourism as a cat’s paw - but any tourists I have spoken to, it didn’t affect them,” he said.
Groups representing publicans and restaurants have long argued that the ban should be lifted – mainly due to its adverse affect on tourism numbers over the Easter weekend.
In his Christmas address to members at the end of 2016, the president of the Restaurants Association of Ireland condemned the “ridiculous” ban and called for its abolition.
Anthony Gray said Good Friday costs Irish Restaurants €15m in revenue every year, adding that, “everybody loses out including the government – not to mention the tourists as the country closes down.”
“Ireland must be the only country in the world that has a bank holiday weekend and actually chooses to close the tourist attractions it is best known for - the centres of craic and ceol, the restaurants and pubs of the country,” he said.
“Even the Vatican City does not obey this ridiculous law.”
Senator Norris said the move to lift the ban is “not what many Irish people want” claiming that “a lot of this is driven by the large pub chains.”
The Pat Kenny show ran a twitter poll earlier this week to get a feel for how the ban is viewed among listeners:
Do you agree with lifting the Good Friday alcohol sales ban? #pknt— Pat Kenny Newstalk (@PatKennyNT) April 11, 2017
Out of 823 votes, the poll found that 68% of people support the lifting of the ban.