HU WELCOMES PASSING OF FINAL STAGE OF LIQUOR LICENSING BILL AFTER DECADE LONG CAMPAIGN FOR REFORM
29 June 2021
Hospitality Ulster has welcomed the final stage of the Liquor Licensing Bill passing through the Assembly today.
The modifications made in the Bill will be the first set of major changes in licensing legislation since 1996 which has seen Northern Ireland fall behind counterparts in GB and the Republic of Ireland.
The updated legislation, which includes restrictions on alcohol sales over the Easter holiday lifted, are modest but much needed, to support both our domestic customers and the growing tourism market.
Other changes will see pubs / bars and hotel bars allowed to sell alcohol until 2am on 104 nights of the year and opening hours on Sunday evenings brought into line with all other days of the week. Also included is an increase in late nights for small pubs without food or live entertainment from 20 to 104 nights a year and an extension of drinking up time to 1 hour.
The Bill is now awaiting Royal Assent and is expected to come into law in the Autumn.
Today’s passing of the Bill follows a near decade long campaign, led by Hospitality Ulster, to see modernisation of liquor licensing legislation which has outdated for some time.
Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster said:
“Today marks a big step forward for our industry with the passing of all stages of the Liquor Licensing Bill at the Assembly. This will see Northern Ireland move to provide an enhanced hospitality offer, and in turn, give customers more options and more freedom to enjoy our local hospitality.”
“For over a decade, we have been campaigning on behalf of the industry for reform of the previous outdated legislation that really stifled not just the nighttime economy, but trade around the likes of Easter. There have been many failed attempts to get to where we are today, including the collapse of the Assembly in 2017. We have gone through several consultations, several ministers and hours and hours of engagement over the years.”
“The passing of this legislation could not have come at a more critical time for the hospitality sector as it begins its journey to recovery and looks to new initiatives to ensure commercial viability in the months and years ahead. Today’s move will give a real boost to the sector with these crucial changes to licensing ultimately assisting in getting the industry back on its feet again.”
“We thank Minister Hargey and those in the Assembly who had the foresight to support this legislation moving ahead and how these important reforms will translate into how we do business in future. It will only grow our economy further, ease the burden for many within the hospitality sector, and be that vital link, attracting more tourists and visitors to our shores. Now it is time for our sector to be the modern, thriving industry that it has the ability to be without the constraints and limitations of the past. We look forward to seeing the updated legislation coming into effect in the Autumn.”