I propose to take Questions Nos. 489 to 492, inclusive, together.
The current position is that, under the provisions of the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2018 a licence under those Acts, issued by the Revenue Commissioners following submission of an appropriate court certificate by the applicant, is required in order to permit the sale, supply or exposure for sale of intoxicating liquor in specified premises. Such licences are renewed annually.
With regard to the question of delegating functions to local authorities, the Deputy may wish to be aware that the performance of music and public entertainment in premises, irrespective of whether the premises are licensed for the sale, supply and consumption of intoxicating liquor, is regulated by Part IV of the Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1890. Part IV of this Act applies to premises located in urban areas where an urban authority has adopted the appropriate provisions. I understand that local authorities that have adopted Part IV include Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford. Where Part IV applies, premises that are ordinarily used for public music or other entertainment of like kind must be licensed under the 1890 Act. Such licences are issued by the District Court.
In its Second Interim Report issued in July 2002, the Commission on Liquor Licensing concluded that the best and fairest way of dealing with licensing applications is through a court-based system. It noted that such a system is transparent, fair and accessible. It also noted that a court-based system is the best way of dealing with potentially contentious issues that require the balancing of rights of relevant stakeholders.
I am, of course, aware of the current debate concerning the promotion and fostering of a more diverse and vibrant night time culture. While I am in principle in favour of enhancements to current arrangements, I do not have immediate plans to amend the law in this area and any such changes to the law would, of course, require proper consultation with relevant stakeholders, including representative bodies, groups representing local residents, the local authorities and An Garda Síochána.
I am also conscious that any change would need to be organised and managed in a manner that will not cause undue inconvenience or nuisance to local residents nor create an undue risk to public order. Any proposed changes would also need to have regard to the preservation of a fair competitive environment for competing businesses.