Gardaí will “use discretion.”
Both the hospitality industry and An Garda Síochána are in a confusing position after it became clear that it is illegal to drink alcohol in many of the new outdoor premises established by pubs and restaurants.
Currently, the law provides for alcohol to be sold to be consumed on the premises, or for takeaway. Gardaí in Galway have argued that there is no provision for drinking on the streets outside pubs, despite the conversion of many public street spaces into seated areas to facilitate pubs and restaurants.
Acting Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys has tweeted saying that Gardaí will “use discretion” in their dealing with establishments, but there remains a lack of clarity around what that means, and on what grounds Gardaí will be enforcing the law.
“I have been in regular contact with the Garda Commissioner on the issue of outdoor dining and how best An Garda Síochána will work to facilitate us all enjoying an outdoor summer. We spoke again this morning.
“The Commissioner has reassured me, and did so again this morning, that discretion will continue to be applied by Gardaí in their engagements with licensed premises. The Commissioner will be sending a communication out across the Garda organisation this morning to that effect.”
Humphreys went on to say that she will now speak to the Attorney General to establish whether legislative changes need to be made.
“The overwhelming majority of licensed premises are operating safely, and we in Government are determined to continue to support them. If local issues arise, I would urge local authorities, Gardai and businesses to engage.
“However, I will also examine whether further measures are required from Government. Licencing law is a complex area but I have spoken to the Attorney General this morning and we will take further action if necessary.”