Ireland badly needs extended opening hours for pubs and nightclubs to prevent crowds of people being thrown out on the street at the same time.
Under the current COVID restrictions pubs and restaurants have to close by 11:30pm – with hundreds of people ejected onto the street all at once.
On The Hard Shoulder this evening, Kieran Cuddihy said the centre of Kilkenny was ‘like the fall of Rome’ at 11:30pm last Saturday night – and heard from listeners warning that the restricted hours were leading to unsafe situations in towns and cities across the country every weekend.
He also spoke Derek Devoy, a taxi driver based in Kilkenny, who said Ireland badly needs staggered closing times to make the nighttime streets safer.
“This has been going on for years,” he said.
“It is not just because of the 11:30 for COVID; it happens at every closing. When it was 2am it was the exact same and it needs to be staggered badly.”
He said forcing pubs to close at the same time leads to carnage on the streets at certain hours.
“It’s like Croke Park,” he said. “When a match ends at Croke Park they all pour out onto the streets – you can’t get a taxi, you can’t get a bus and you can’t get a car down the road.
“It is just dangerous, and it needs to be looked at and it needs to be sorted.
“The hours definitely, if they were staggered, would make it much better for everybody – and I don’t mean money-wise; I don’t care about that. It is the safety aspect of it. Just stagger the hours and stagger the people coming out.”
Also on the show, Pat Crotty, owner of the Paris Texas Cafe Bar in Kilkenny said he expects things to improve when restrictions are eased on October 22nd.
“I think that will solve some of the problem,” he said.
“Normally if you are in a restaurant, you would be gone home before anyone is put out of any pub,” he said.
“Then some of the people who leave the pub will go on to a club so there are only some of those going home at the 12:30 point.
“Then it could be 2am or 3:30am before the club people are going home and even the Gardai will be gone home by 3am and they will be happy that the town is cleared.
“The problem at the moment is that everyone is exiting at exactly the same time and there are only a certain amount of taxis so they can’t possibly clear all those people.
“In places outside the main cities there are no public transport options at that hour of the night and as result you do have a serious congregation of people with drink taken in big open spaces like the parade in Kilkenny and other squares in other towns.”