Belfast Bar Owner Ends Controversial Drinks Promotion

10 September 2010

A Belfast bar owner who received criticism for holding a controversial drinks promotion has now discontinued the offer.

John Sherry, owner of the Library Bar, had been offering a �25 'all you can drink' promotion in his premises on Friday nights. Mr Sherry said he had felt forced to compete with other premises which flout current licensing laws by staying open later than allowed and serving alcohol past the permitted time: "It is extremely difficult for pubs to survive within the current economic climate. The increased prevalence of at home drinking and the fact that some licensed premises flout the law and serve alcohol past the permitted time has forced some pub owners like myself to take extreme action and look for new ways to compete. I was initially overwhelmed by the attention the promotion was receiving in the media and from a range of politicians and other parties but I now accept that such an offer is not in line with best practice and have ceased the promotion. I fully agree with and support any proposals that will encourage the responsible retailing of alcohol across all licensed premises in Northern Ireland." Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Pubs of Ulster, the trade body which represents more than 70% of the licensed trade in Northern Ireland, said: "I have spoken at length with Mr Sherry and fully accept that his motivations were instinctive in protecting his business rather than intentionally negligent, however the responsible retailing of alcohol is of paramount importance to Pubs of Ulster and our members and drinks promotions of this kind cannot be tolerated. The licensed trade in Northern Ireland is amongst the most proactive and successful in providing self regulation and we welcome recent proposals by Social Development Minister Alex Attwood to introduce controls on irresponsible promotions including below cost sales by supermarkets which will reinforce the range of initiatives Pubs of Ulster is already driving forward." "Pubs of Ulster also takes a hard line on any rogue elements of the licensed trade, including restaurants and social clubs, which breach licensing laws by staying open later than allowed and serving alcohol past the permitted time. While this may only apply to a very small minority of licensees, it is a practice that we will continue to work with the police and statutory agencies to eradicate."