Piecemeal approach to licensing law reform must be resisted

31 January 2023
  • Change in opening hours only one part of the jigsaw in developing a safe and sustainable night time economy 
  • Labour calls for Living Wage for basic hourly rate plus overtime for night-time economy 
  • Accessible and safe public transport crucial

In advance of the Oireachtas Justice Committee’s discussion of licensing law reform today (Tuesday, 31st January), Labour culture and employment spokesperson Marie Sherlock said longer opening hours must be carried out in tandem with a full modernisation of Ireland’s night economy.

Without a series of changes to access to public transport, a Living Wage for workers and safe public areas, Senator Sherlock said the much hoped boost for the night time economy will not materialise.

Senator Sherlock said:

“It’s beyond time that Ireland’s licensing laws were reformed. There has been a lack of vision and ambition for Ireland’s night economy for many years, exemplified by the hollowing out of Ireland’s club culture.

“The refreshed approach is badly needed and today the Justice Committee will delve into the detail of what else needs to be done to ensure a thriving night economy. Labour is calling on Government take a whole of sector approach to the night economy.

“Without a series of changes, the much hoped for boost for the night economy will not become reality. Longer opening hours will be meaningless without decent and safe public transport hours, strong terms and conditions for workers and safe public spaces after dark.

“For revellers and workers alike, safe public transport options are critical. We need to see more all-night services that run all week to ensure people working late can avail of public transport. We’re living in the dark days in Ireland still expecting people to pay for taxis or have a lift organised. All other European cities operate services like this.

“It is disappointing to see that the National Transport Authority is already trying to put the brakes on such a move. Government need to shift gear and leave the NTA under no illusion that longer public transport hours is the only direction of travel.

“In discussions with government on this today, the question is not should it happen, it will be about the extent of the service to ensure people throughout the country have viable and safe public transport options.

“Central to a reimagined nightlife must be decently-paid employment. The reality is that bar and club workers have to work longer, unsociable hours.

“Labour will be pushing Government to set the Living Wage as the basic hourly rate in night-time economy work and that premium payments must be a feature in the early hours of the morning, as called for by Mandate. This must apply not only to bar, club and restaurant staff but also to cleaning staff, maintenance crew and security workers.

“We fully support the calls of Mandate for protections for workers in the night economy. All businesses in the night economy must have sincere regard for the duty of care of their workers and ensure that their workers are protected. There must be a zero tolerance for any abuse of workers – any time of the day or night.”

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