Thursday, July 16, 2009

Irish nightclub industry lobbies for longer drinking hours

nightclub An economic review of the Irish nightclub industry describes a sector comprising 330 businesses nationwide with revenues in 2008 of approximately €500 million, two-thirds of which is derived from alcohol.  The average nightclub outside Dublin operates 4 nights each week, while a typical nightclub in Dublin operates 5 nights per week.  This would mean that the typical nightclub takes in an average of €6,000 per night.  The Irish Nightclub Industry Association is the mouthpiece of the industry.

The economic review, prepared by the respected economist, Dr Constantin Gurdgiev for the Association advocates that regulations controlling the times when alcohol could be served should be extended to 2.30 AM outside Dublin and 4.00 AM in Dublin seven nights a week.  Alcohol is generally sold from 10.30 AM to 11.30 PM from Monday to Thursday; to 12.30 AM on Saturday and Sunday mornings and to 11.00 PM on Sunday night.  Special Exemption Orders (cost €410) are available and expire at 2.30 AM on each of the six weeknights and at 1.00 AM on Sundays.

The desired objective of such a development would be to increase the sectors annual turnover by €166 million, of which almost €122 million would be alcohol related.  The alleviation of regulations is intended to facilitate more than a 50% increase in alcohol volume sales in an economy that is rapidly contracting by 20% in certain instances.  The review opines that a desirable social objective of nightclubs is that provide entertainment in a controlled environment with lower alcohol consumption and consumption pace – but of course, this would not be the case were alcohol sales in nightclubs to increase four-fold.  This is in the context of traditional pubs ceasing to sell alcohol at 11.30 PM; late bars ceasing to sell alcohol at 2.30 AM while nightclubs would keep the party going until 4.00 AM with a 30 minute period to finish drinking. 

I don’t have a favourable impression of Ireland’s shoddy, primitive, overpriced and inelegant late entertainment nightspots.  My recurring experience of venues, such as Temple Bar in Dublin is of drunken young men and women wandering aimlessly in the vicinity of these so-called entertainment venues from as early as 7.00 PM, some of whom vomit and urinate indiscriminately in public.  Does Ireland therefore need to enhance and intensify this image of binge drinkers and loutish anti-social behaviour just to make nightclub operators even richer?

I don’t think that the accident and emergency staff in the country’s hospitals would welcome more excuses for appalling episodes of behaviour in the wee hours.

27% of the Irish are tending to drink more alcohol at home than had been the case.  Forty years ago there were about 6 wine outlets in Dublin.  Today there are 3,485 throughout the country.

The Health Services Executive published a report in April 2008 titled Alcohol Related Harm in Ireland.  This report describes heightened alcohol related street violence, homicide, domestic violence, alcohol induced road traffic injuries, harm to others, including children and adverse consequences in the workplace.  The evidence is overwhelming that there is no rational basis to increase the hours when alcohol can be sold.

I would therefore regard the adverse social consequences of stag and hen parties being able to spend an additional €2 million each week on alcohol presents an appalling vista that makes my skin crawl and my imagination wince!

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