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18/10/2021

Outdoor drinking penalty fears branded a "storm in a teacup" by Longford vintners

Concerned publicans urged to engage with local authority

Revealed: Kildare pubs second most crowded in Ireland

Growing fears that pubs and restaurants serving alcohol to customers in outdoor seating areas which may be deemed technically illegal under local by-laws has been described as a "storm in a teacup" by local vintners representatives.

It emerged over the weekend that many temporary outdoor seating areas operated by pubs and restaurants across the nation may be in breach of local authority by-laws that prohibit the serving of alcohol in a public place.

Those concerns appeared to ease somewhat earlier today when Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, issued an instruction for gardaí to use discretion in relation to outdoor drinking.

Those directions were made comes after the Minister for Justice said she spoke to Mr Harris about the legal issues around outdoor drinking and he had assured her that gardaí will apply discretion.

Locally, the issue has been described as an affair that "will blow over" ahead of the reopening of indoor hospitality in two weeks time.

"We are not affected because we went through all the appropriate procedures with Longford County Council," said John Duignan of Longford's Tally-Ho bar.

The Longford Vintners Federation PRO said he was unsure how the issue might affect beer gardens and urged publicans uneasy about their own respective establishments to make contact with the local authority.

"Anyone who wants to should go through the proper channels as it (outdoor seating) has to be to the specification of the county council as they are the ones granting powers to sell drink and for the purposes of licensing, you need to have all of that in order," he added.

His Longford town licensing colleague Eddie Valentine insisted he too, was very much cognisant of the responsibilities in serving alcohol to customers in temporary outdoor seating areas.

"I went to great cost and all the way to the High Court to make sure my license was covered from the very perimeter at the rear of my property to the front door," he said.

"And as far as I am concerned I am 100 per cent happy with the situation."

Justice Minister Heather Humphreys was anxious to play down concerns of any sanctions being handed down to pubs, saying if “local issues arise, I would urge local authorities, Gardai and businesses to engage.” 

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