Michael Staines
Michael Staines

16.11 15 Sep 2021


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A pilot club night is to take place at the Button Factory in Dublin in just over two weeks.

The Arts Minister Catherine Martin announced the plan at the launch of the Night-Time Economy Taskforce report.

The report includes recommendations to update Ireland’s licensing laws – allowing pubs, off-licenses, restaurants and nightclubs to stay open later.

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Minister Martin said the electronic music and nightclub sector is an “integral part of Ireland’s night-time economy and culture” that must be supported and recognised.

Club night

She said she understands the frustration felt by many in a sector that has been “one of the hardest hit during this pandemic” but said she hoped the new report “will be a welcome step forward” as restrictions are pulled back

“The advice that was published by Government on 31 August set out a roadmap for the recovery of live entertainment through September and October,” she said.

“In this context, I am also delighted to announce today that a pilot night club event will take place on 30th September in The Button Factory in Temple Bar and I hope that the learnings from this will help the sector as we head towards a full easing of restrictions in October.”

It’s the first time an official club event will be held in almost a year and a half.

Minister Martin said it offers a chance to make sure things run smoothly during the full reopening in October.

“The industry wanted to look at antigen testing,” she said.

“This the chance to explore that. That is coming from the industry. There will be 60% capacity here in the Button Factory on September 30th but I think it is essential as we plan and to help the industry plan for that full reopening on October 22nd.”

Night-Time Economy

The Night-Time Economy Taskforce report contains dozens of proposed actions to be implemented over the coming years.

It says that nightclubs and late bars currently operate on the “basis of a legal fiction” - special exemptions from the courts, which have to be applied for regularly.

Instead, it’s proposed that an annual nightclub permit be introduced, meaning operators would no longer keep having to apply for special exemptions.

It also states that current licensing laws are “being stretched beyond their original purpose, leading to legal uncertainties and confusion.”

Licensing

The report says the Department of Justice will now work towards a major reform of licensing laws, including dedicated new licences for the likes of nightclubs.

It also proposes better late-night transport, including new 24-hour routes.

"Challenging"

Sunil Sharpe of the Give Us the Night campaign says the report is an important milestone on the road to change for the night-time industry.

He said: “It has been a challenging process at times, but we are happy with the direction it is going.

“This is the beginning of a rebirth for domestic nightlife, which if done right can increase the public’s interaction with their local city or town and open up new opportunities for a considerable part of our community

“The night-time industry should work for all businesses and venues, and obstacles to this need be removed.”

The report isn't limited to nightclubs and other licensed venues. It also encourages the development of night-time programmes for museums and galleries, and proposes a pilot late-night event at the National Concert Hall.

With reporting from Stephen McNeice


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