Ireland to relax 9pm ruling for under-18s
Friday 29th October 2004 11:12
An order banning children under 18 from licensed premises in the Irish Republic after 9pm is to be relaxed, following complaints from angry hoteliers that it is damaging their business and harming tourism.
The order, recently imposed by Justice Minister Michael McDowell, is aimed at curbing the Republic's chronic problem of teenage drinking, which is the worst per capita in the European Union.
But the effect of the curfew, according to the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF), is that families with children cannot share a meal together in their hotel after 9pm, or attend the nightly entertainment, with the result that business is being lost.
Now, following a vigorous campaign by the industry backed by tourist groups, McDowell has announced that the 9pm deadline is to be extended by an hour from next summer.
"I accept that the 9pm limit is too tough, in the case of people coming off boats on the Shannon or from beaches in rural Ireland in the summer," he said.
"A limit of 10pm for the summer months would be better, and I'm proposing to take a liberal view of summer, which would run from 1 May to the end of September."
Jim Deenihan, tourism spokesman for the main opposition party, Fine Gael, said the 9pm deadline had adversely affected family holidays this year and seriously damaged the tourist business. He described the minister's change of mind as "a victory for common sense".
John Power, chief executive of the IHF, said the change was welcome but did not go far enough and that the IHFwould be pressing for more concessions. "The change affects the summer months only, but this legislation has an impact all year round."