Updated: 26/01/18 : 06:20:53
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Good Friday alcohol ban lifted by Dáil

The Good Friday alcohol ban was brought to an end yesterday, Thursday.

The news was not welcomed by all publicans in Sligo. One rural bar owner, not wishing to be named,  told Sligo Today that Good Friday was a great day to carry out maintenance such as painting and floor varnishing. He said, "No tradesmen are available on Christmas Day so Good Friday was perfect to carry out the work."

The initial legislation was governed under the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1927. Laws prohibited the sale of alcohol on the Christian holiday for over 90 years. It was introduced in 1927 and was one of three days in the calendar that the sale of alcohol was banned.

Under the legislation, alcohol could not be served on Good Friday, Christmas Day and St Patrick’s Day. However, the due to commercial pressure, the ban for St Patrick’s Day was repealed in 1960.

The sale of alcohol on Good Friday was only permitted for people at an airport, on a train, on a boat or staying in a hotel.

The Dog Show at the RDS in Dublin was a favourite for thirsty punters prior to 1960. However noted playwright Brendan Behan once famously complained that he couldn't enjoy his pint with the noise of the dogs barking!

It was a common sight over the years to see the alcohol section in supermarkets 'curtained' off with black plastic sacks for the Holy Day.

'Religious practice'

Minister of State David Stanton welcomed the news and said the tourism industry will benefit. He said: “Tourism makes a much greater contribution to our economy and this is particularly true during holidays, such as the busy Easter period.

“In addition changing demographics and increasing diversity in our population have led to a reduction in traditional religious practice.

“Taking all these factors into consideration the Government considered that it was an opportune time to have an examination of the Good Friday restrictions.”

President Michael D Higgins will sign the amendment next week and the new law will come into immediate effect, ensuring pubs will open this Good Friday 30 March.

Chief Executive of the Licensed Vintners Association Donall O’Keeffe said the decision to allow the sale of alcohol on Good Friday was long overdue.

He said: “Removing the ban is simple common sense.

“The large number of tourists visiting Ireland at Easter were confused by a law that made Ireland appear out of touch with the with the rest of our European neighbours.

“The extra day’s trade at such a busy time of year will be a welcome boost.

“This change is a win for our customers, our tourists, our suppliers and the wider hospitality sector.

““The fact the Bill received all-party support illustrates there is little opposition to Good Friday trading, as has always been the case for retailers in other sectors.”