Stormont licensing law changes ‘don’t go far enough’

The new Bill will see some minor changes to opening hours
The new Bill will see some minor changes to opening hours

Proposals submitted by a DUP minister to relax Northern Ireland’s alcohol licensing laws don’t go far enough, Hospitality Ulster has warned.

The body, which represents thousands of licensed premises across the Province, said that while they are glad to see proposed changes on the table, more needs to be done to “modernise” licensing laws here.

DUP minister Paul Givan introduced a Bill at Stormont yesterday, which he said strikes “the necessary balance between on the one hand, controlling the sale of alcoholic drinks and protecting the public interest, and on the other hand ensuring local businesses in the hospitality sector can continue to provide a high level of service to their customers”.

The Bill proposes restrictions on advertising of alcohol in supermarkets; occasional late opening for certain premises; an extension of ‘drinking-up’ time; and minor changes to Easter opening hours.

However, Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, said: “We are grateful the Bill has been put into motion because we have been waiting on this for years but we are disappointed that this does not go far enough to modernise our laws.

“Some of the changes, the occasional extension of opening hours for example, are marginal at best.”