What does a guy have to do to get a drink around here?
Well, here is my belief: no-one in Ireland agrees with the ridiculous alcohol licensing laws. At least, no-one who drinks. But maybe we are like the select group of gun owners in the U.S. who are all rabid NRA members. Gung-ho for armour-piercing semi-automatics. And everyone else in the country thinks we're insane.
No I don't think so. Maybe I'm going out on a limb here but no.
You see, everyone in Ireland drinks. Or used to drink. Or wants to drink. Or will be drinking soon. That's who we are so let's get over it. And this 'Everyone' I mentioned also thinks that the licensing laws are an unholy mess.
As long as I've been schmoozing and boozing, Everyone I've met in a pub (without exception) or even on the street has voiced a preference for simple twenty-four hour licences. If you want to keep your bar open all day and all night, by all means go ahead, who really cares?
To rehash some of the same old points you've heard time and again, it would:
- Stagger the closing hours to such a degree that public order offences could be dealt with handily by the Gardaí
- Re-invigorate the adult beverage market allowing for greater competition between rival premises
- Cater to workers on a non-standard time-table, i.e. nurses, shift workers, musicians, bar staff, restaurant trade, even, gasp, the GARDAÍ themselves(!)
- Free up badly needed police resources which are currently wasted on clearing pubs
- Position us as a tourist-friendly destination
- End the enforced binge drinking that occurs at closing time
So why oh why, in the name of Fachtna, do we see so many Gardaí traipsing in and out of otherwise peaceful and law-abiding establishments, filling their notebooks with names and statements, just because we've reached some arbitrary closing time? While there are cars being stolen and people being stabbed unhindered less than a mile away?
I guess it's because, like all employees who just clock in to do the bare minimum, some Gardaí enjoy hitting the soft targets, landing the easy catch. Sure, why would you bother cruising through O'Malley Park at 1AM when you can drop in to, say Tom Collins's or The Cuckoo Box and find respectable people quietly breaking the law by five or ten minutes instead?
It happened last night. The magnificent mechanism of law and order here in our great nation saw fit to send a patrol car with no less than three uniformed officers clad in bullet-proof vests to The Wicked Chicken at 2:45am to find out what dastardly crimes were being committed therein.
Actually I can vouch for the fact that the bastards (oops, I mean law abiding bartenders! Sorry Phil!) did in fact stop serving on time, but then gave people a little friendly leeway to organise their parties before kicking them out onto the street. And where's the harm in that?
For the international audience, I remind you that closing time during the week in Ireland is 11:30pm. Yes, you read that right. Half-past eleven is last orders. Yes, in God damn Ireland, for Chrissake!
There's an extra hour at weekends, other than that the bar has to pay €500 a night for a nightclub extension up to 2am.
And closing time for an off-license (liquor store to you) is 10:00pm nowadays. (What?? Are you kidding? No.)
But who is behind all this legal nonsense? And why? Everyone hates it, where is the political pressure (read: bribes) coming from? Cui bono, I would ask were my Latin atrocious…