- 13 Jul 22
"Current legislation is out of date and unfit for the year 2022," Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield stated today. The motion will be debated at 7:30pm tonight.
Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield has announced the party will bring forward a motion in the Seanad this evening to improve the night-time economy.
The motion will be debated tomorrow at 7.30pm and calls on the government to urgently introduce a package of measures to save and improve nightlife which is under immense pressure across the state.
"Night-life and night-time entertainment are the beating hearts of communities in cities and towns across the state," Senator Warfield remarked. "This culture is under severe threat and urgent action is needed to stand up for communities to ensure that this culture is protected and supported.
“We have been losing cultural spaces and venues at an alarming rate. Despite this, the government has failed to act and has ignored the calls of the sector for much-needed support.
In the year 2000, Ireland had 522 nightclubs - with only 85 remaining.
"The situation is dire and getting worse," the Senator added. "Nightclubs not only employ staff across hospitality and the arts and culture sector, they are an important community space for people to gather and express themselves culturally.
"Property costs, prohibitive insurance premiums, restrictive licensing laws and associated fees have had a crippling effect on businesses and cultural activity. More and more people feel forced to leave cities like Dublin to move abroad, because they simply cannot envision a life in the city’s hostile environment towards culture and the arts.
The Sinn Féin representative stated that successive Governments have failed to sufficiently update legislation.
"Current legislation is out of date and unfit for the year 2022. Sinn Féin’s motion sets out clearly what needs to happen now. This includes reforming licensing laws, trading hours and an end to early closing on Sundays. It also calls for increased roll out of 24 hour bus routes, fairer regulations for taxis and harm reduction campaigns to ensure communities remain safe.
"In recent years campaigners have called out the problems and the solutions," he continued. "In September it will be a year since the Night-Time Economy Task Force presented the Government with a list of actions that need to be taken. Despite this, the government has yet to publish its plan.
"It is over to the Minister. The solutions are there if the political will is there. It is time that the Department of Justice announced its proposals for licensing law reform so we can get this over the line.
“Sinn Féin in government would stand up for communities to ensure that the night-time economy is protected and enabled to thrive,” Senator Warfield concluded.
Sinn Féin will this evening bring a motion to the Seanad to help save the nightlife industry.
There's been a huge loss of music venues and nightclubs over the last 20 years. Govt must publish their proposals for reform of licensing laws and fees!
MORE: https://t.co/nKUtlRD5O6 pic.twitter.com/SoG0KJNPkm
— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) July 13, 2022
Elsewhere, Senator Warfield has been an active champion for the banning of LGBTQ+ conversion therapy and human rights.
Dublin disco, Sunday Social, recently announced its closure from Farrier & Draper, South William Street.
In April, Give Us The Night – an independent group of night-time industry professionals campaigning for positive changes to nightlife in Ireland – urged the Government not to reintroduce late licence fees for venues operating beyond normal pub hours after lockdowns.
These nightly fees of €410 have been waived since the industry reopened, but according to a statement from Give Us The Night, plans are currently in place to bring them back, with venues "expected to commit the money towards these fees for the month of May by this Friday."
Also, nightclubs currently close at 2:30am at the latest in Ireland. There have been last ditch attempts to derail reformed licensing bills in the past, and the current licensing bill (the Sale of Alcohol bill) was first drafted back in 2005. It has clearly taken quite some time to be pushed through.
As part of the Justice Plan 2022 published by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee in April, new laws are expected to be enacted to update and modernise licensing law through the Sale of Alcohol Bill.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar recently spoke about the aim to progress past the need for the current licensing laws. However, progress has proven incredibly slow-moving.
"From the night-time economy point of view, we believe we can get the legislation done this year," Varadkar stated at a press conference on the Basic Income for the Arts pilot scheme. "The whole idea is to move away from existing licensing laws, which are kind of a fiction - the idea of a special exemption order in favour of a proper nightclub license. There mightn't be a huge number of them, but it does mean that there would be a certain number of nightclub licenses. The ambition is that Irish cities will have a nightlife that's as good as anything in Lisbon or Berlin, and that's the plan, but we hope to have the legislation done this year."
Minister Hildegarde Naughton said last September that the "outdated" Licensing Acts, Registration of Clubs Acts, and the Public Dance Hall Act 1935 will be repealed and replaced with "updated and streamlined 21st century provisions" regarding the sale and consumption of alcohol in licensed premises. She added that she hoped the reform would "develop a more vibrant night-life in our cities and towns.”