History was made on Good Friday as publicans in the Republic were finally able to sell alcohol.
For 91 years pubs were forced to shut their doors for the day but in January the Dail passed new legislation overturning the ban in a bid to boost tourism.
While pubs across the border welcomed Easter revellers from 10:30am on Friday morning until closing time at 12:30am it was a different story in the North. Up here pubs can open on Good Friday but may only serve alcohol between 5pm and 11pm while off licenses are allowed to sell it from 8am.
Now vintners here want to see similar alcohol licensing rules applying in the North but reforms to the current licensing legislation can only be progressed by a functioning Stormont Assembly.
The Herald spoke to a number of Enniskillen publicans on Friday who were expecting to take a hit over the Easter weekend as a result of the Republic’s new regulations.
Steven Foster, Assistant Manager at The Crowe’s Nest says it’s time for pubs here to catch up with those down south: “We don’t want to remain stuck in a timewarp now that the south has moved on. The current licensing laws here will ruin our industry this weekend on what is one of the busiest weekends of the year. We would normally have got a lot of trade up from the south on Good Friday but we will be hammered this weekend as everyone heads down there.”
Up the street, Paul Coulter, Supervisor at Pat’s Bar was also calling for a change in the drinking laws.
“At the moment the situation is very annoying and it’s not good for business.
“By lunchtime on Friday we had turned away around 15 people who came in looking for beer. People are still shocked that we can’t serve alcohol until 5pm,” he said.
Noelle McAloon, Manager of Enniskillen BID was among those who recently met with Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Hospitality Ulster to discuss the current Easter Licensing laws.
“Hospitality Ulster are lobbying to change these laws and when you read that the law change in the South of Ireland is estimated to have generated more than £35 million in sales – that is more than significant!” she told the Herald.
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