Minister for Justice Helen McEntee recently received Cabinet approval for her draft Bill to reform Ireland’s antiquated licensing system.

The present system is based on a patchwork of 100 laws – some of which are over 200 years old and two thirds of which pre-date the foundation of the State 100 years ago.

Minister McEntee believes the laws are in significant need of reform and published the General Scheme of the Sale of Alcohol Bill to outline how she intends to implement these reforms.

If enacted, the proposed legislation will bring about the following four changes:

Opening Times

The holder of a Publican’s Licence will be permitted to remain open until 12:30am 7 nights a week. Currently premises with a Publican’s Licence can stay open to 11.00pm on a Sunday, 11.30pm Monday to Thursday and 12.30am Friday and Saturday night.


Holders of a Nightclub Permit will be permitted to stay open until 6am and these permits will be renewed annually.

Late Bar Permit

The holder of a Publican’s Licence or Hotel Licence may make an application for the grant of a Late Bar Permit. This permit will permit the licence holder to remain open every night until 2.30am.

Cultural Amenity Licence

A new “Cultural Amenity Licence” for galleries, theatres, museums and other cultural venues that the Minister deems a Cultural Amenity will permit the sale of alcohol at these premises to persons attending cultural activities between 10.30am and 12.30am the following morning.

Minister McEntee said it is vitally important that we retain restrictions on the sale of alcohol and on who is permitted to sell it, and to whom. These proposals will ensure that the sale of alcohol will remain closely regulated. Ireland will maintain a restrictive licensing system in general, with licenses only granted by the courts – with objections allowed from fire authorities, the HSE, An Garda Síochána and local communities.

In addition, a representative of a local authority and local people with a genuine interest may object to the granting or renewal of a licence.

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) has been pressing for these reforms and believes these were essential to bring Irish alcohol licensing in line with European norms. Donall O’Keeffe, chief executive of the LVA, said: “These reforms have been badly needed and much anticipated across the industry. Once the revised measures come into effect, we will finally have licensing laws fit for the 21st century.”

NB – This is a guide for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have an issue requiring legal advice, please contact any of the team at Nolan Farrell & Goff LLP, whose numbers can be found on our website, or email