Long says more needs done to liberalise our licensing laws

Alliance Communities spokesperson Naomi Long MLA has said more needs to be done to liberalise our licensing laws.

The East Belfast representative was speaking following a debate on the laws in the Assembly today (Tuesday), which will see pubs and clubs able to serve alcohol for an extra hour up to 12 times a year, as well as an extension of ‘drinking-up’ time to an hour long. However, most restrictions around Easter drinking will remain.

While Mrs Long said it was a “long overdue” step forward for Northern Ireland, the changes were too modest.

“Alliance has long called for licensing reform in Northern Ireland, advocating a common sense approach, which today’s Bill represents an opportunity to achieve. However, the Bill could go much further, both modernising and simplifying our licensing laws. It is merely a foundation to make a significant stride forward in supporting our tourism industry.

“The Minister needs to do more in reforming Easter and weekend opening hours for licensed premises. While he might have concerns about this, the approach he is currently taking is not limiting consumption over these days – rather than consuming alcohol within a set period of time in a bar, individuals simply drink as much as they like in their own home.

“There is still much work to be done if we are to realise this Bill’s full potential for Northern Ireland. The Minister needs to take the opportunity to give a major boost for our hospitality and tourism industry.”

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