Tuesday, 3 February 2004

Questions (327)

Joe Costello

Question:

456 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has satisfied himself that the District Court system of determining licence extensions is adequate to deal with the complex social and environmental issues involved in built-up residential areas in view of the recent licence extension granted to a public house (details supplied) in Dublin 9; if he is considering changes to the present system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3038/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

As the Deputy may be aware, I have recently amended the legislation to enhance the input of the local authorities, Garda Síochána and private individuals into licensing decisions made by the courts.

A special exemption order is an order of the District Court exempting the holder of an on-licence from the provisions of the Licensing Acts relating to prohibited hours in respect of licensed premises during the hours and on the occasion specified in the order. Such orders are made under section 11 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003, which substitutes a new section for section 5 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1927.

A special exemption order shall not be granted by the court unless the applicant has served upon the officer in charge of the Garda Síochána for the licensing area concerned a notice of intention to apply for the order setting out the applicant's name and address and the special occasion, premises and hours in relation to which the order is sought. The court may grant the order provided that it is satisfied that the special occasion will be conducted in a manner that will not cause undue inconvenience or nuisance to local people or create an undue risk to public order, and having heard the officer of the Garda Síochána for the licensing area concerned.

The Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003 also makes provision for a local authority role in determining the duration of special exemption orders in its administrative area. A local authority may adopt a resolution concerning the expiry times of special exemption orders in its area having consulted with the Garda and having considered the views of the Garda and any other persons, including views in relation to any health aspects. The District Court must have regard to any such resolution when granting a special exemption order.

The Deputy will be aware that the codification of the licensing laws is currently being examined. The codification Bill will provide a further opportunity for discussion of the provisions relating to the grant of special exemption orders. My intention is that an outline of the codification Bill will be available by mid-2004.