Section 14 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003, which substitutes a new section for section 34 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988, generally prohibits persons under the age of 18 years from being in the bar of licensed premises. A licensee may, however, permit a child (a person under the age of 15 years) to be in the bar if accompanied by a parent or guardian, but not after 9 p.m. That discretion does not apply where it appears to the licensee that the child's presence in the bar could reasonably be regarded as injurious to the child's health, safety or welfare. A licensee may also permit a person aged between 15 and 17 to be in the bar unaccompanied by a parent or guardian, but not after 9 p.m.
A licensee may allow a child accompanied by a parent or guardian, or a person aged between 15 and 17, to be in the bar after 9 p.m. on the occasion of a private function at which a substantial meal is served to persons attending the function.
"Bar" is defined as any open bar or any part of licensed premises exclusively or mainly used for the sale and consumption of intoxicating liquor and includes any counter or barrier across which drink is or can be served to the public. The restrictions already mentioned do not apply to other parts of the licensed premises. "Substantial meal" is defined in section 9(1) of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1962 which provides that a meal served in any premises shall not be deemed to be a substantial meal unless the meal is such as might be expected to be served as a main midday or main evening meal or as a main course at either such meal, and the meal is of a kind for which (i) having regard to the prices charged for meals in the premises at times other than prohibited hours, or (ii) if meals are not normally served in the premises, having regard to all the circumstances, it would be reasonable to charge a sum that is not less than that fixed by order of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.
The Intoxicating Liquor Act 1962 (section 9) Order 2003 (S.I. No. 442 of 2003) fixed this sum at €9.00 with effect from 29 September 2003. The restrictions in section 14 of the 2003 Act do not apply to a son or daughter of the licensee, a person who resides in the licensed premises, a person who is passing through the bar solely for the purpose of entering or leaving another part of the premises, or a person who is employed in the licensed premises in accordance with section 38 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988.
Where a part of licensed premises contains a bar counter which is physically closed and is not used for the supply of intoxicating liquor, such a part of the premises does not constitute a "bar" within the meaning of the 2003 Act. I would, however, recommend that any person organising an alcohol-free event in such premises for persons under the age of 18 notify the superintendent of the Garda Síochána for the Garda district in which the premises are situated in advance of the proposed event.
A restaurant in respect of which a special restaurant licence has been granted under Part II of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988 is prohibited under section 16 of that Act from containing a bar. Section 14 of the 2003 Act does not, therefore, apply to a restaurant with a special restaurant licence.