Rugby fans to fall victim of outdated licensing laws – CAMRA
The combination of time differences and outdated rules will stop NI fans enjoying the World Cup at the pub
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has warned that rugby fans will be the latest group to be let down by outdated rules on pub opening hours across Northern Ireland.
The campaigning organisation wants to see licensing rules updated when the Assembly is back up and running to give pubs more flexibility with opening times.
The call comes as business leaders and MPs want to relax licensing rules for pubs in England and Wales during the World Cup, which takes place from 20 September - 2 November in Japan. The time difference means that some Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England games will start as early as 8.15 am.
This has prompted MP Sir Vince Cable and industry group UK Hospitality to call on the UK Government to relax licensing laws to allow pubs in England and Wales to open and serve alcohol earlier in the morning during World Cup games.
CAMRA claims that Northern Ireland has been left behind, in yet another example of how draconian licensing laws are failing businesses, locals and tourists alike.
Plans to change licensing laws for the Open golf tournament at Portrush in July received support in a Department for Communities public consultation but legislation to implement changes couldn’t be passed in the Assembly and weren’t taken forward at Westminster.
Ruth Sloan - Chair of CAMRA NI said: “Locals and visitors to our part of the UK will want to watch World Cup games and may wish to enjoy a beer at the same time - but they won’t be allowed to with the inflexible and outdated current licensing laws.
“If the changes go ahead for England and Wales, it will be yet another example of Northern Ireland being left behind, with fans missing out on the games. Instead of watching the game in asocial and supervised environment like a local pub, I fear that the current situation will encourage people to buy cheap alcohol at a supermarket and drink at home instead. That is not only bad for business, but bad for our health.
“That’s why CAMRA NI is continuing to work with MLAs and councillors across Northern Ireland to make sure we bring licensing rules up to date when the Assembly is restored. Changes would givewell-run pubs greater flexibility to open in special circumstances and allow local brewers to expand their businesses and sell more of their beer in local pubs, markets and at events.”