Monday, 22 February 2021
Ábhair Ghnó an tSeanaid – Matters on the Business of the Seanad
I commend the Minister for Justice on the overhaul of the licensing laws as reported in the media today. It is welcome that she is considering a number of measures. I also pay tribute to the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Deputy Catherine Martin, for prioritising culture and the night-time economy. According to media reports, issues being examined include staggered and extending closing times and an annual nightclub permit. I also hope these will apply to promoters who arrange pop-up nights.
For a country that likes to socialise, we tend to have unnecessary rules and a bureaucratic regulation which hangs over any of the socialising that we do at night. We have in the past adopted a moralistic tone when it comes to socialising with the not very well-hidden paternalistic State knowing best in the way of promoting the night-time economy.
Recent years have seen people such Sunil Sharpe of Give Us The Night, Andrea Horan through her activism Clubbing Is Culture, as well as promoters such as Nialler9 involved with pop-up nights, advocating on behalf of the clubbing community. There is nothing wrong with a party. People have different preferences for what is good socialising. Not everybody wants a civilised dinner with a drink and glass of wine. That is okay. I hope when developing the new licensing laws we look beyond them and look at ways to make it as easy as possible to have pop-up club nights, that we value those nights and we do not judge them. As my colleague Senator Sherlock said, I hope we also involve workers and ensure night-time workers are paid decently but that they also have the infrastructure, such as transport, to be able to facilitate a strong night-time economy. We should, in 21st century Ireland, have spaces where we can dance from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and not be sent home.