Publicans say “ridiculous” by-laws preventing them from serving drinks to people seated outside their premises must be lifted as Ireland’s outdoor summer gets underway.
Many pubs around the country have been granted permission to place tables and chairs on the street; however, by-laws in certain areas still prevent them from serving drinks to customers sitting on them.
It effectively means the pubs will be treated as if they are selling takeaway pints rather than the outdoor drinks they would be allowed to sell if they had a beer garden.
In County Louth, Gardaí have warned publicans they intend to enforce the laws – with customers liable for a €300 fine and publicans facing a €1,500 fine for a first offence.
On Lunchtime Live this afternoon, the Chair of the Louth branch of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) Colette Nugent said the rules are ridiculous.
She said the Government needs to step in and find a workaround – at least for as long as pubs are restricted to outdoor service.
“There is absolutely no reason – if the Tánaiste is promoting this – there is no reason why he and the Minister for Justice couldn’t come along to the Garda Commissioner and say, ‘look, we need to do something and we need to do something fast, can we trial this?” she said.
“If they can put in a sunset law to close us, they can put a sunset law for this.”
Also on the show, Drogheda publican Brian Browning said the laws don’t make sense when Fáilte Ireland is offering grants for the installation of tables outside pubs and restaurants.
“You can’t drink on the bench that I have put outside my premises, for which Bord Fáilte are going to give me a lovely grant, but you can go down the road and sit on the bench of my fellow publican and sit outside his pub and drink the pint you purchased off me,” he said.
“That to me doesn’t make sense. It is a by-law; it is outdated and really all that is required here is for all of the stakeholders to get together.
“In light of the fact that we want outdoor dining and people outdoors more so than indoor because of COVID, we really do need to address this long-term.
“Also, is there a short-term solution that says can we lift this temporarily purely just for the consumption of alcohol outside a licensed premises where, for instance, we have a permit to put our bench to serve people.”
He said the situation means he will only be able to open two of his four bars this Monday.
“I am very disappointed with the councillors,” he said. “They have been standing back on this issue. They will all talk about it but nobody is coming to the front.
“They are passing the buck to the Gardaí and we are piggy in the middle.
“We are saying stop, we need to meet with you, we need to meet with the Gardaí and we need to come up with a good solution.
“I am a sensible publican, I do believe – I am in the trade over 30 years in Drogheda.
“I will manage my bench and if a guy gets sick, I will clean it up. If he dumps his glass on the path, I will clean it up – but if he goes down to the church steps in Peter’s Street and decides to do the devil in the deep blue sea, the council will have to deal with that in the morning.”
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