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Push to move away from night-time boozing in city


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Push to move away from night-time boozing in city Push to move away from night-time boozing in city

There’s a push on to promote activities other than drinking alcohol in Galway City at night.

It comes as a former city mayor claims Ireland is not mature enough for the proposed new licensing laws that will allow venues to remain open until 6am and to serve alcohol until 5am.

Galway City Council plans to hire a ‘night mayor’ early in the New Year to encourage more retail outlets to open for late-night shopping, and to entice more cafes to trade later.

The new employee, officially known as a Night-Time Economy Advisor, will also be tasked with encouraging arts and culture organisations to improve their offering at night.

It’s one of the recommendations of the Night-Time Economy taskforce set-up by Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin (Green Party).

Revised licensing laws including later opening hours for pubs and nightclubs up to 6am was the headline recommendation of the taskforce.

But the Chairperson of Galway City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) this week warned Ireland may not be ready for liberal alcohol laws.

“We have an issue with drink in this country. I don’t know if we are grown-up enough to know how to drink until 6am,” said JPC Chair, City Councillor Niall McNelis (Labour).

The City Council’s Tourism Officer, Ruairi Lehmann gave a presentation to the JPC on Monday about plans for the city’s night economy.

He said a key element of the initiative would be an “extensive consultation process, leading to the development of an action plan setting out a range of interventions to support the co-ordinated development of the area’s night-time economy”.

Interventions may include incentives for late-night retail and other businesses, and late-night use of venues such as the Galway Museum and Galway Arts Centre.

These and other venues have opened late on Culture Night, he said, but they would have to examine the viability of and demand for late openings for longer periods.

Garda Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche warned about the cost of Garda resources to police the city later into the night as a result of this initiative.

Chief Supt Roche said the Garda Commissioner would not be happy with him after he submitted the Garda overtime bill for this December that is necessary to police the city’s night-time economy in the build-up to Christmas.

It was sustainable in the short-term, but if Galway was going to be busier at night for a sustained period, then the issue of Garda resources had to be factored in.

He pointed to Limerick, where retailers pay the cost of two uniformed Gardaí to patrol shopping centres for six to eight hours.

Chief Supt Roche also called for consultation and feedback with residents on the plans. He said that lack of engagement with residents was a theme highlighted regularly at JPC meetings.

Senator Pauline O’Reilly (Green) said Galway needed to grasp this opportunity. She said there was a ‘concentration on alcohol’ in Galway’s night-time economy but this initiative would allow arts and culture to flourish and encourage more families into the city at night like in other European cities.

Providing late-night buses and alternatives to the car, would be important for this, she said.

Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) suggested she should contact another Green Minister, the party’s leader, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan, about securing funding for night buses for Galway to support the night-time economy action plan.

In his presentation, Mr Lehmann outlined how €4m in funding from Minister Martin’s Department this year, post-Covid, was allocated to 18 venues in the city to support entertainment off-peak and to increase footfall. He said with the exception of one, all venues that received funding were bars, pubs or hotels.

Mr Lehmann said the Council’s new employee will be asked to set up a night-time economy committee for the city, conduct an extensive consultation process and develop an action plan for the night-time economy.

The new employee should be hired by March, when Mr Lehmann agreed to give an update to that month’s JPC.



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