Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Justice and Equality

Liquor Licences

Photo of Seán FlemingSeán Fleming (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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471. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding licences for public houses to be extended that are due to expire in August 2020 in view of the fact that they have been closed for a considerable period of time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6446/20]

Photo of Charles FlanaganCharles Flanagan (Laois-Offaly, Fine Gael)
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The position is that the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2018 contain statutory provisions for the issue and renewal by the Revenue Commissioners of excise licences for the sale and supply of intoxicating liquor in premises to which on-licences are attached, such as public houses, restaurants, and theatres, as well as those premises to which off licences are attached, such as specialist off licences and mixed trading premises. Under the Finance (1909-10) Act 1910, all retailer’s licences expire on 30 September, and are renewable.

Licensed premises to which on-licences are attached, including public houses, are unable to operate under current Covid 19 emergency provisions.

Simplified and streamlined procedures for the renewal of licences are set out in section 4 of the Courts (No.2) Act 1986. Since enactment of that legislation, an applicant does not have to apply to the annual licensing District Court for a certificate as to their good character and the peaceable and orderly manner in which the premises have been operated. Where premises have been licensed in the immediately preceding year, licences may, on application prior to expiry of the existing licence, be renewed by the Revenue Commissioners without production of any such court certificate unless an objection to such renewal has been lodged in the District Court. Applications must be accompanied by the relevant excise duty and a tax clearance certificate under the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.

In practice, the great majority of licenses are renewed annually by the Revenue Commissioners without undue delay or excessive cost to the licensee.

Rates of duty applicable to licence renewal are applied by the Revenue Commissioners under the Finance Acts. I am informed that the excise duty applicable to renewal of a public house licence is based on the annual turnover of the premises, less excluded turnover. The latter refers to turnover which is not related to the sale of intoxicating liquor or arising from the provision of meals.

It appears therefore that reduced turnover due to non-operation of such premises under current Covid 19 emergency provisions  may result in reduced rates of duty on renewal of licences in due course.

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