Hospitality Ulster launches campaign to force Assembly to modernise outdated liquor licensing laws
09 February 2016
Hospitality Ulster has today launched a campaign to push the Northern Ireland Assembly to modernise the outdated liquor licensing laws as soon as it returns from the election period. Some of the current laws which govern us here are up to 20, 50 and even as much as 100 years old. Hospitality Ulster, the voice of the sector, says its members are getting increasingly angry at the slow pace of change by our politicians.
A real opportunity now exists to drive tourism growth and develop the visitor experience that is often celebrated by our elected representatives. What they fail to mention when making big speeches about how great we are here in Northern Ireland - and the benefits the likes of the Year of Food and Drink will bring - is the fact that they are not dealing with the legislation that will unlock further growth. In fact, the Year of Food and Drink has been a turning point for the industry in that it is highlighting how the Assembly has ignored the sector and failed to do anything about the antiquated liquor licensing laws.
Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster said today:
“For years the hospitality sector has been pushing for changes to the outdated liquor licensing laws in Northern Ireland. We have been promised the introduction of a Bill at the Northern Ireland Assembly to make the necessary changes, however the Assembly has failed to bring it forward. This is compounded by the fact that the issues contained within the Bill have been consulted upon for over 4 years and as time moves on, the hospitality sector is being left behind.”
“We are aware that there is not enough time left in the lifetime of this Assembly, but as soon as it returns after the election, this issue needs to be a top priority. Much of the work has been done and we know there is wide spread support for the changes that are proposed, we now need the Assembly to stop sitting on its hands and bring the Bill forward.”
“We are a responsible industry. Going out to a pub or restaurant is actually one of the safest places to consume alcohol. The vast majority of the industry shows a high level of care towards it customers and visitors and through the Independent Panel on the Responsible Retailing of Alcohol Code even the marketing of promotions are carefully scrutinised with a strong code of conduct in place to ensure a quality standard is maintained.”
“Pre loading, binge drinking, anti-social behaviour, restrictive Easter opening times and the prosecution of publicans on legal technicalities are only a small sample of the issues that we are faced with time and time again. It is a worrying trend that 65% who drink alcohol, consume it at home, while only 20% do so in a pub and 16% in restaurants* taking it out of the social setting where is it a safe and regulated environment. Harmful drinking is increasing and the industry is suffering under current law.”
“We are fighting against a downturn in domestic tourism, in a struggling economy, mixed with issues relating to the likes of VAT, rates, and the National Living Wage. We simply can’t sustain this ongoing anti-business environment. We are an industry that is a significant driver of the Northern Ireland economy, and pregnant with opportunity as we grow the offer to consumers and tourists. The outmoded current legislation is simply holding us back.”
We are calling on the wider sector and public to get in touch with their elected representatives to make sure that they back the Bill in the new Assembly term.
Photo: (From Left to Right): Today Hospitality Ulster launched a campaign to force the Northern Ireland Assembly to modernise outdated liquor licensing laws. Launching the campaign is Hospitality Ulster Chair, Olga Walls, Chief Executive, Colin Neill, and past Chair Mark Stewart