21 July 2014


Pubs of Ulster Chief Executive Colin Neill has today welcomed an announcement from the Social Development Minister on plans to reform laws regulating the sale of alcohol, but said the plans do not go far enough.

Minister Nelson McCausland has outlined today how he intends to bring forward a range of measures that will reform the liquor licensing system in Northern Ireland, following an extensive consultation period.

The changes to the law will include:

  • restrictions on the advertising of alcohol in supermarkets and off sales premises;
  • introduction of an occasional additional late opening hour for certain licensed premises on up to 12 occasions per year;
  • changes to the Easter opening hours for pubs, with normal opening hours applying on the Thursday and Saturday before Easter;
  • the alignment of the alcohol and entertainment licencing systems;
  • formal approval for codes of practice on the responsible sale of alcohol.


Pubs of Ulster Chief Executive Colin Neill said:


“Whilst we welcome the Minister’s commitment to reforming our antiquated liquor licensing laws, there is still a way to go before the industry here sees true modernisation of the system.


“Pubs of Ulster have been calling for a change in the law for a number of years and we welcome proposals such as the alignment of drinks and entertainment licensing systems, and the introduction of a new ‘Occasional Licence’ that will allow pubs to open until 2am. However this occasional licence needs to be allowed at least every weekend, and not on 12 occasions as proposed.


“More work also needs to be done to make Northern Ireland more tourist friendly and the fact that our pubs are still restricted on certain days over Easter weekend, which has become an important holiday weekend in terms of customer demand, means that many pubs will continue to lose out at this time of the year.


“Whilst we acknowledge the Minister’s intentions to modernise the system, Pubs of Ulster believe there is still room for improvement. We will continue to press for further changes in the law to ensure that we have a licensing system that is modern and fit for the 21st century, but is still safe and regulated.”

Click here to read the Minister's proposals explained.