Modernisation of NI drinking laws stifled by NI Assembly inaction says Hospitality Chief
21 January 2016
Speaking at the Northern Ireland Assembly today, Chief Executive of Hospitality Ulster Colin Neill, said that the inaction by the Assembly to bring forward the Liquor Licensing Review Bill is having a detrimental impact on the hospitality and tourism sector in Northern Ireland.
Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster said today:
“We were called to give evidence on the Bill to address licencing at regional stadia in Northern Ireland brought forward by the Alliance MLA Judith Cochrane and were happy to do so, but it simply does not hide the fact that the Assembly has failed to introduce the much anticipated Liquor Licensing Review Bill. This would have made significant steps towards the modernisation of Northern Ireland’s archaic drinking laws. In fact, this inaction is only serving to promote irresponsible drinking.”
“We know that the Bill has been sitting in draft form in a drawer gathering dust, after a lengthy consultation period and change of three Ministers. We now need to call time on this navel gazing approach, address the legislative paralysis, and bring forward the proposals to give our industry the fresh start it deserves.”
“Pre loading, binge drinking, anti-social behaviour, restrictive Easter opening times and the prosecution of publicans 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 17% 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 Minimum 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.”
*DHSSPSNI fifth Adult Drinking Patterns Survey