PUBLICANS have expressed fears that early pub closures over the festive season will result in further anti-social behaviour on Cork City streets.
They made the comments after unrest occurred on Washington St on Tuesday night after pubs closed at 8pm.
A flare was lit in a crowded area and gardaí reported bottles being thrown when they attended the scene.
One person was arrested.
Owner of the Castle Inn on South Main St and Cork City chair of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), Michael O’Donovan, said that early closures to curb the spread of Covid-19 removes alcohol consumption from controlled environments.
“As a publican, it’s really hard to see your doors closed while watching people access alcohol and drink it on the streets,” he said.
“If they were drinking in a pub they would be in a safe and controlled environment.
“I’ve been hearing from other publicans who share the same frustrations. We saw what happened on Washington St. Once the bars and restaurants close, that’s when they start to come out. It’s difficult to have to stop when everyone else can keep going.”
Publican Benny McCabe, who owns Crane Lane, Mutton Lane, The Oval, and Sin é among other venues, also voiced concern about the impact of early closing times.
“I feel the anti-social behaviour has been way less since the pubs were opened,” he said.
Mr McCabe feels bad behaviour is more likely when people cannot socialise normally.
However, he was keen to stress that anti-social behaviour in Cork City isn’t confined to the younger cohort.
“It’s unfair that young people are being vilified,” Mr McCabe said.
“Back in the day if you asked any Garda or paramedic about anti-social behaviour they will tell you that it’s the middle-class professionals who cause the most trouble on nights like this.
“Youngsters breaking the law and refusing to comply is unacceptable.
However, we can’t tar every young person with the anti- social brush.”
Despite the uncertainty, Mr McCabe said he is determined to remain hopeful for the future.
“Nobody knows what’s coming with the Omicron variant,” he said. “It’s probably wise to close even though it will be catastrophic for so many.
“We had expected something like this to happen so the focus for me at the moment is on next year. I mean it when I say that I am so positive for Cork and what’s ahead. The early closures aren’t great and they won’t pay the bills.
“All we can do is look forward to next year.”
The restricted opening times will apply to hospitality venues across Ireland until January 30 as part of attempts to curb the spread of the Omicron variant.