Friday, 30 April 2021
Business and Covid-19: Statements
I welcome the Tánaiste to the House. I will focus on one issue, namely, nightlife reform. People have been campaigning for licensing law reform for many years. Given the importance of enterprise and business, we are closer now than we have ever been to achieving it. I do not need to tell the Tánaiste that we desperately need to improve the quality of nightlife in our cities to be in line with our European neighbours for so many reasons. Culture and creativity are forged at night, in chance encounters and celebration. It is important, when many more of us will be working from home, that we have these centres where we meet, that we have a vibrant nightlife, club scene, bar scene and a diverse mix of things for people to enjoy at night in an age where we are all looking at our screens, as it might be our only encounter with someone. It is why our GAA clubs are so important but is why our nightlife is important as well. Imagine anyone being told that their local GAA club was going to close. These are the reasons why our clubs and music venues are so important.
The next steps outlined by the Government indicated that some higher risk activities will be considered at the end of June for later in the year, including indoor hospitality, restaurants, bars, nightclubs. The Tánaiste and the Minister, Deputy McEntee - who I congratulate on her news - have both made positive statements on the need for licensing law reform. What is the Tánaiste's view? Will we see trial events first and if so, when? What is his view on licensing law reform? Clubs and venues pay through the roof for special exemption orders for each night they want to open beyond 12.30 a.m. On top of that there are legal fees and insurance costs which have, on their own, caused people to exit the market. When might we see such reforms? There is huge demand, as the Tánaiste will be aware, for change in this area. As my friend, Tonie Walsh said, there was a time when mammy Éire did not trust us to stay out late but there is demand now. People talk about the next social issues; I believe this is one of them.
I commend the Tánaiste on the conversation around a living wage which is also particularly important in this sector.