That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1962 and to provide for related matters.
The current position is that section 11 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1962 permits the District Court, under certain conditions, to grant an occasional licence to the holder of an on-licence on the occasion of a special event being held at a place to which no licence for the sale of intoxicating liquor is attached.
This can often take the form of a local festival or annual celebration or fundraiser. However, the subsection provides that an occasional licence in respect of a dance shall not be granted unless it is held elsewhere than in the open air, or in a tent, marquee or other such structure. To grant a licence, the event must occur within a permanent structure if alcohol is to be sold. This creates a position where community organisations are limited in the nature and location of events they can hold in a somewhat arbitrary way. As it stands, this prohibition leads to considerable difficulties for community groups and festival organisers that are not necessary. Many of the organisations hit by this law rely on a small number of big events to fund their activities for the years ahead. Local communities are also being unfairly tasked with raising money for more complex solutions and venues than would otherwise be needed.
Rural Ireland is running out of suitable structures and locations. Under the current law, to gain a licence exemption to sell alcohol at a gig or dance, one is obliged to provide a permanent structure from which alcohol can be sold. During the summer, a number of events were proposed and were lucky enough to be approved because of practical negotiation with gardaí and people from the District Court. I propose that we amend the law through this Bill.