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Responsibility for licensing to move from Circuit to District Court

25 Oct 2022 / legislation Print

Licensing to move from Circuit to District Court

A draft bill to reform Ireland’s licensing system has been approved by Cabinet.

The present system patchwork has 100 laws, some of which are over 200 years old, and two-thirds of which pre-date the foundation of the State.  

The General Scheme also proposes an amendment to the so-called ‘extinguishment’ provision, whereby anyone seeking to open a new premises or an off-licence must first purchase a licence from an existing licence-holder in order to do so.

The ‘extinguishment’ requirement will remain in place for off-licences, however.

Closed transactions

These licences are often sold in a closed transactions to a large supermarket chain to be used for the purposes of an in-store off-licence in an urban area.

Licenses will continue to be granted only by the courts – with objections allowed from fire authorities, the HSE, an Garda Síochána and local communities.

The change will lead to one piece of legislation to regulate the sale of alcohol, with the aim of developing the night-time economy. 

Responsibility for licensing will move from the Circuit Court to the District Court. Online renewal will be possible where there are no objections.

The number of licences available will be reduced, and objections can be made on grounds including:

  • The number of similar premises in same area,
  • Unsuitability of premises,
  • Manner of operation.

Regular trading hours will change to 10.30am to 12.30am seven days a week, and outdoor service, introduced during the pandemic, will be made permanent.

Annual permits for late bars and nightclubs will replace special exemption orders. Nightclubs may stay open until 6am, with last orders at 5am.

CCTV on premises

Applicants must have CCTV on the premises and accredited security staff.

Nightclubs must allocate 20% of their floor for dancing, and a live band or DJ.

Some estimates suggest that just 80 nightclubs remain – down from over 500 that operated 20 years ago.

Off-licence opening hours will be standardised from 10.30am to 10pm, seven days a week.

Cultural-amenity licences will also be available for galleries, theatres, museums, and other cultural venues. 

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