Cork City Councillor: Keep the Good Friday drinks ban and extend it to St Patrick's Day

Cork City Councillor: Keep the Good Friday drinks ban and extend it to St Patrick's Day

Thousands of people enjoyed last month's St Patrick's Day Parade in Cork. City Councillor Tim Brosnan wants the Government to impose an alcohol sale ban for the day. Picture: Darragh Kane

A Cork city councillor has called for the return of the St Patrick's Day alcohol ban - just as the government seeks to remove the restrictions surrounding Good Friday.

It is expected that a Seanad bill will this week call for an end to the 90-year-old ban on the sale of alcohol on Good Friday.

Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has indicated that she will not oppose the measure, bringing an end to the controversial ban.

It comes after years of campaigning by publicans, restaurateurs and other business owners, many of whom felt the ban was archaic.

While the move comes too late for this Friday, it is expected to be law by 2018.

Fianna Fáil councillor Tim Brosnan has called for the Tánaiste to not only prevent this change but to extend the ban to incorporate St Patrick's Day, too.

Laws in place until the 1970s prohibited Irish pubs opening on March 17 as a mark of respect for the religious elements of the day.

The regulations had been introduced by Cumann na nGael Minister Kevin O'Higgins in 1925.

In doing so, Mr O'Higgins remarked, "No more will St Patrick's Day be celebrated with drunkenness, nor Good Friday disgraced by tipsy rowdies in the street."

Mr Brosnan said, "My concern is with what happens on St Patrick's Day once the parade is over and everybody goes home."

Despite the city's St Patrick's Day celebrations passing off without major incident this year, Gardaí reported an 'exceptionally busy night.'

Mr Brosnan raised concerns about the relationship between alcohol and Ireland's national holiday.

"The exact debate that Kevin O'Higgins had in 1925 is happening again right now and our TDs aren't going to oppose it.

"I want to ask that before Fine Gael Justice Minister undoes the fine work of her colleague 90 years ago by declaring Good Friday a wet day that she would consider re-declaring St Patrick's Day a dry day once more."

Mr Brosnan also noted that Good Friday is not a bank holiday, despite being observed as a non-working day by many.

The reason for this is its religious significance, he said.

"If it is a drinking day, it can be a working day," he added.

Despite Mr Brosnan's calls, the government are expected to hear the Sale of Alcohol Bill this week.

The bill, tabled by a group of Independent senators, aims to reform the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol.

It is expected to supply 'streamlined and updated provisions more suited to modern conditions' around the sale of alcohol and will be considered alongside the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which is designed to reduce the general consumption of alcohol in Ireland.

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