Hospitality Ulster welcomes emerging political support against special event liquor licensing

03 April 2019

Hospitality Ulster welcomes emerging political support against special event liquor licensing

Hospitality Ulster welcomes emerging political support against ‘special event’ liquor licensing treatment for the British Open

Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Hospitality Ulster has welcomed the support from the SDLP on their position to ensure that outdated liquor licensing is addressed and that the narrow consultation from the Department for Communities, proposing a special events license for one off events, is scrapped.

“Whilst we welcome the fact that the Open is coming to Northern Ireland, we need to look at the whole picture and not just pander to the company running the event because they want to sell more drink outside of the current permitted hours. This does nothing for local pubs and restaurants who will be missing out on the revenue. Once the Open packs up, the hospitality sector will be left to operate with the same outdated laws that it has struggled with for years. As far as we can see, no legacy will be left behind, but rather we will be enabling a big company to make a fast buck. All of a sudden we are bending over backwards to rush through legislation even though there is an entire Bill sitting on the shelf ready to go that will address many, if not all of these issues.”

“It’s time that an ounce of sense was brought to the debate with proper wide ranging changes to the legislation to sort out our licensing laws.”



Immediate Release

02 APRIL 2019

SDLP calls on Secretary of State to ensure any licensing law reform benefits all


Following comments made to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on Wednesday 27 March, Colin McGrath MLA has called on Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Karen Bradley, to ensure any changes to Northern Ireland’s licensing laws also benefit the local hospitality industry, supporting the position of Hospitality Ulster on the issue.


In advance of the 148th Open, Royal Portrush, the Department for Communities (DfC) has launched a consultation on proposed changes to licensing laws which would allow certain “special events” to sell alcoholic drinks outside the normal hours that affect all other businesses. 


Colin McGrath MLA said:

“If the Secretary of State is going to reform Northern Ireland’s licensing laws, there is no point doing it simply for the benefit of these big events which come to Northern Ireland and then go again. We all want the 148th Open to be a massive success, but if the law can be changed for events like this, it should also be changed to support our own hospitality businesses too.


“As Hospitality Ulster has outlined, the local hospitality industry supports thousands of jobs, contributes £1.2bn every year to our economy and is a key cornerstone of our growing tourism industry. It is vital to the future economic growth of Northern Ireland and more must be done to support it.


“Moves to modernise our licensing laws were under way by the Executive at Stormont, and if the Secretary of State does decide to amend Northern Ireland’s licensing laws in its absence, then she must not miss the opportunity to follow the direction of travel shown by the NI Assembly and modernise Northern Ireland’s licensing laws to give our hospitality industry a much needed boost.”



Note to editors


In response to a question from the Chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Dr Andrew Murrison MP, the Secretary of State said she would not pre-judge the consultation and the Government would look at what action is needed to be taken when the consultation closed.