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Happy hour ban in Ireland

From The Publican

19-Aug-2003

Tough new laws banning happy hours have been introduced in Ireland today in a bid to cut heavy drinking in pubs.

From this week pubs must close by 11.30pm and licensees are now forbidden to put on promotions that encourage excessive drinking.

Irish police have been given the power to impose fines on publicans who serve drunks or allow drunkenness on their premises. Licensees who do so face an initial fine of £1,000 and £1,400 for subsequent offences.

Meanwhile, calls for a compromise on the planned smoking ban in Irish pubs and bars have highlighted the deep divisions over the issue.

Irish environment minister Martin Cullen set himself on a head-to-head course with health minister Michael Martin, who wants to ban smoking in all workplaces, including pubs and restaurants, from January 1 next year.

Mr Cullen has called for a compromise that would see smoking areas provided in pubs and restaurants. He has the support of a number of backbench TD's - members of the Irish Parliament - from the majority Fianna Fail party, who are concerned about the potential impact on jobs.

As the lobbying campaign against the ban intensifies, Irish Premier Bertie Ahern indicated that a deal might yet be done. Although he has supported the ban so far, Mr Ahern's spokesman said: "the wording of the directive has yet to be decided and will be brought back to government," suggesting the draft regulations could still be changed.

Mandate, the trade union representing the majority of bar staff across Ireland, rejected any talk of a compromise. Spokesperson Mandy Kane said: "We won't accept anything less than a full ban on smoking in the workplace."