Pubs breathe sigh of relief with 2am reprieveSeptember 28, 2012 - 7:15am
BY DARA BRADLEY AND DEARBHLA GERAGHTY
Galway’s late night pubs and nightclubs will be allowed to serve alcohol until 2am after a landmark decision by a District Court Judge this week set a legal precedent for the city.
The decision by Judge Mary Fahy to grant a special exemption order allowing the Róisin Dubh venue on Dominick Street to serve alcohol up to 2am Sunday to Thursday has been broadly welcomed by publicans – it will pave the way for every other late-night venue to apply through the courts for later midweek closing.
The Vintners Association of Ireland, Galway branch, says the decision to grant 2am exemptions, and to put later midweek opening hours onto a legal footing, will breathe ‘life’ again into the city centre. City publicans also claim the granting of special exemptions up to 2am will stave off jobs losses and closures of nightclubs and pubs.
For the past decade or more, Galway’s late-pubs and nightclubs, who applied for special exemptions, were officially and legally allowed to serve alcohol up to 1am Sunday to Thursday and until 2am on Friday and Saturday.
However, the practice ‘on the ground’ was that they stayed open to 2am at weekends and during the week – Galway Gardaí had effectively ‘turned a blind eye’ to those pubs staying open after 1am Sunday to Thursday.
A new licensing sergeant, Brendan Moore, was appointed in Galway in April, however, and the official midweek 1am closing time was being strictly enforced by Gardaí. In August when Gardaí began to inspect city premises open after 1am it caused widespread disquiet within the trade and was the catalyst for an online campaign to extend opening hours.
This week, the Róisin Dubh successfully applied for a 2am closing, despite strong objections from Gardaí, who said public order offences and assaults had declined since it began to enforce the 1am closures.
In granting the special exemption, against the wishes of Gardaí, Judge Fahy said: “Gardaí were aware of the situation on the ground, and even though exemptions were given until 1am they were tolerant until 2am – if Gardaí had a problem with a premises they wouldn’t have allowed the situation to continue for 14 years.” At the licensing hearing, Simon Harris of the Róisin Dubh, claimed turnover is down by a fifth during six weeks in August/September since Gardaí began to clampdown.
For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune.