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Communities should be involved in alcohol licensing decisions – Ó Snodaigh

6 July, 2007


Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has said there should be a significant role for communities in the determination of alcohol licensing regulations. Deputy Ó Snodaigh has made a detailed submission to the Joint Policing Committee (JPC) Sub Group on Alcohol which meets today. In the submission Sinn Féin outlines its proposals for the liberalisation of licensing laws towards European models involving flexible opening and closing times to prevent drink-related disorder.

Speaking before the meeting of the JPC Sub Group Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "Since early 2005 Sinn Féin have called for the liberalisation of licensing laws towards European models involving flexible opening and closing times to prevent drink-related disorder. We also advocate a significant role for the community in the determination of licensing restrictions including hours of sale through Local Licensing Fora.

"Some of our key proposals are:

· Support for the involvement of local authorities and local communities in the liquor licensing control process.

· Local Licensing Fora should include elected representatives, statutory authorities, licensed trade representatives, community representatives, and other stakeholders such as those involved in addiction services.

· Licenses should be awarded individually and on the basis of good practice and subject to annual review for compliance history. Group licensing should end.

· All applicants for new liquor licenses must be able to clearly demonstrate not only compliance but also proactive public health promotion and harm reduction actions.

"We are willing to consider the introduction of a penalty points system for licensees, resulting in referral for license withdrawal and/or disqualification for persistent offenders.

"We have made our submission to the Joint Policing Committee and we hope to see some of our proposals included in its recommendations to the Department of Justice for inclusion in the new Sale of Alcohol Bill which is currently being drawn up. If our proposals are not included I will attempt to amend the Bill appropriately in the Dáil." ENDS

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