An Irish publican organisation said a State agency has “lost perspective” after it said it was illegal for groups of pubs to close on Good Friday.
Donall O’Keeffe of the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) told The Irish Catholic that it was a matter for each individual pub to decide their opening hours, after the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) said that under law pubs could not “collectively” decide to close on the holy day.
“It’s clearly a matter for each individual publican to decide whether they open or not. There’s no legal obligation to open and now no legal obligation to stay closed, so it’s their choice,” said Mr O’Keeffe.
This comes as two groups of pubs in the towns of Drumconrath, Co. Meath, and Newmarket in Cork have decided to remain closed on Good Friday.
The CCPC told the Sunday Independent: “In recent weeks we have become aware of reports concerning a small number of publicans deciding not to open on Good Friday, March 30.
“The opening hours of a pub are a matter for each publican to decide. Publicans should decide individually and not collectively, the terms and conditions under which they are willing to provide goods or services to customers.
“The CCPC reminds all publicans that under competition law, they are obliged to make commercial decisions, including their opening hours for business, independently.”
The CCPC is reported to have contacted the two main publican representative organisations the LVA – who represent pubs in Dublin – and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) to remind them of the obligations their members have under law.
Mr O’Keeffe said: “I think they’ve lost perspective a little bit, I can’t see that this is the biggest consumer issue out there.”
The parish priest of Drumconrath, Fr Finian Connaughton, said he would be “very surprised” if there was a problem with the pubs closing on Good Friday, saying, “it’s all been so positive to this point”.
He said he is “quite delighted” at the publicans’ decision and that they are “proud to hold up a tradition that has gone on for almost 100 years”.
The Intoxicating Liquor Act was amended to allow for the sale of alcohol on Good Friday in January 2018, changing a law that was in place since 1927.