Another step closer to licensing modernisation says Communities Minister Deirdere Hargey.
Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has taken a bill through the Assembly to modernise liquor licensing here through the next stage in the legislative process.
The Assembly will have an opportunity to vote on amendments to ‘The Licensing and Registration of Clubs (Amendment) Bill’, which was introduced to it on 19 October last year. There will then only be two more Assembly stages left in the legislative process before these important and long awaited changes are finalised.
Minister Hargey said: “The reform of licensing is a priority for this Executive under the New Decade, New Approach Deal and I am pleased to see modernisation is within reach.
“I want to thank Executive, Committee and Assembly colleagues for their work in getting this important Bill to this stage. The Bill contains a balanced package of reforms. While supporting the hospitality industry, it is my duty to also be mindful of the negative impact that the harmful consumption of alcohol can cause, to individuals and to whole communities.
“This Bill therefore also includes the relevant safeguards to ensure that people are protected from alcohol-related harms.
“I look forward to taking this Bill through its Consideration Stage today and next stages in the coming weeks and to deliver on this much anticipated reform.”
We have opportunity to develop local producers into tourist attractions with Licensing Bill, says Armstrong
Strangford Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong speaking ahead of the Licensing and Registration of Clubs (Amendment) Bill reaching its consideration stage in the Assembly said: “We have an opportunity to develop more local craft brewers, distiller, cideries and wineries into tourist attractions, Alliance Communities spokesperson Kellie Armstrong MLA has said.
“It is designed to extend opening hours for pubs and clubs and also removing restrictions around Easter drinking.”
An amendment brought by Strangford MLA Ms Armstrong would also give alcohol producers the ability to open four days a week, enabling taprooms to be added to local food and drink tourism. She said other producers could then reach the international heights of current tourist attractions.
Ms Armstrong added: “The modernising of our licensing laws is long overdue, as they will benefit the hospitality industry and give it a much-needed boost,” she said.
“Our food and drink tourism is a growing market. This is an opportunity to encourage and develop local producers, while extending the opportunity for people to sell their products from their own premises and at market.
“Alliance’s proposed amendments would extend the opening times taprooms can sell their produce for consumption on their own premises. It would not take away from other pubs or hotels but rather enhance the chances for craft brewers, distiller, cideries and wineries to develop into their own tourist attractions.