Bar & Drinks news

Push continues for liquor licensing reform

Colin Neill, chief executive, Hospitality Ulster.

Industry is hopeful of progress in overhauling Northern Ireland’s antiquated liquor licensing legislation after the NI Assembly reintroduced a reform bill to its legislative agenda on February 10. A reform bill was previously introduced in 2016 but rendered inactive when the Assembly collapsed in January 2017.

“This is very welcome news from the Assembly that the legislation to modernise our outdated liquor licensing will be introduced,” said Colin Neill, chief executive, Hospitality Ulster. “Now is the time to bring real and meaningful change to support the hospitality sector. We look forward to engaging with Executive ministers, MLAs in the Assembly and Committee members to ensure the swift passage of this Bill through the house.

“The transformative effect that this will have on the sector, tourism and the economy will be very positive and help us become competitive at a time when the likes of inflated rates and a high level of hospitality VAT are barriers to growth. We have had many false dawns with the Bill previously being introduced in the last Assembly before suspension; now is the time to make it count.”

Reintroduction of the bill follows a sustained campaign by Hospitality Ulster and other sector stakeholders to reform the prohibitive licensing laws, which leave the local hospitality and tourism sectors at a competitive disadvantage to markets such as the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain.

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