Important work on licensing laws hit by Assembly collapse

UUP's Andy Allen. Photo:Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.
UUP's Andy Allen. Photo:Jonathan Porter / Press Eye.

The lack of progress in modernising Northern Ireland’s licensing laws has been criticised by Ulster Unionist Andy Allen.

The party’s communities spokesperson said: “The perennial issue of Northern Ireland’s highly restrictive entertainment and liquor licensing laws is again a matter of public debate this Easter. It is doubly frustrating for those of us who wish to see the law reformed and modernised that there is no functioning Assembly and Executive to progress legislation.”

Mr Allen said the committee for Communities were in the middle of carrying out important amendments to the Licensing and Registration of Clubs (Amendment) Bill when the Assembly was brought down in January.

He said: “This issue must be returned to – preferably by a new Assembly – or alternatively through the NIO under Direct Rule.

He continued: “Issues around licensing laws are not restricted to Easter opening hours.

“Another matter is the need for recognition for micro-breweries, who produce local, home grown craft beers and ciders. These local companies are being massively restricted by our current licensing laws.

He added: “It must be emphasised that problems with alcohol abuse – which are numerous and serious – cannot be laid at the door of licensed premises. The Department of Health’s 2013 survey showed that 65% of alcohol consumption happens at home, with only 20% in a pub, and 17% in a restaurant.”