Vintners react to Good Friday move
VINTNERS ACROSS Co Wexford have given their reaction to the change in law that will allow pubs to sell alcohol on Good Friday for the first time in 90 years.
The Intoxicating Liquor Bill 2017 passed all stages in the Dáil with all-party support and it will now be enacted for the first time on Good Friday 2018 which falls on March 30. Chief Executive of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) Padraig Cribben welcomed the overturning of the ‘archaic law’, while Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA said removing the ban was ‘common sense’.
Local VFI member and Co Wexford Vintners Tourism Officer Johnny Gaynor of Gaynor’s Bar in Wygram welcomed the move.
‘It’s the start of the main bank holiday of the year but you couldn’t get a drink on the Friday night,’ said Mr Gaynor, adding that it was possible to be served alcohol almost everywhere except a pub on Good Friday, including the ferry which, he pointed out, you could drink on until you got to Tuskar and then no more would be served.
‘From a tourism point of view it was necessary. We’ve been a laughing stock for years overthis.’
Mr Gaynor added that publicans still had the option not to open on Good Friday and he expected that a lot of pubs, particularly those in rural areas, would not open until the evening. He also believed that the pubs being open on Good Friday would put an end to huge queues at supermarket checkouts on Holy Thursday.
‘Supermarkets can’t really cut their prices any more than they have. It means you’ll have less uncontrolled drinking and less of the issues that go along with that.’
The lifting of the Good Friday ban means that there is only one day left in the year on which pubs cannot open – Christmas Day – and while many believe it will be the next ban to be lifted, Mr Gaynor does not believe this will happen.
‘I don’t think the VFI would even ask to be allowed open on Christmas Day. But the Good Friday ban should have been lifted years ago.’
Wexford VFI Chairman Michael Wallace, of Tir Na nÓg in Wellingtonbridge, was considerably less enthused by the matter, saying that it wasn’t an issue he had given much thought to.
‘For us, it was generally a day for cleaning and painting but we may revert to Christmas Day for that now. Our holidays are cut in half,’ he joked, adding that the ban had been the law, the same as a law in any other country. He said that while it was not a burning issue in his mind, he would be open for his customers on Good Friday.
‘I don’t think it will make too much difference to country pubs’ annual turnovers but we’ ll wait and see if we become millionaires quicker!’
Mr Wallace did not see similar changes in the pipeline for Christmas Day: ‘I couldn’t see it happening for Christmas Day. I certainly wouldn’t open and I reckon most publicans wouldn’t. Christmas Day is a time to be with family.’
Ferns publican Tom Dunbar, who is a member of the Management Committee of the National Executive Council of the VFI, felt that the general reaction from publicans to the change was 50-50.
‘It was the VFI’s position that it was the loss of a day’s trading at the start of one of the busiest weekends of the year and one that you couldn’t get back. There are different opinions on it - some publicans liked having the day off while others, those in towns and cities for example, were pushing to open.’
He remarked that it was a different country now and this was the natural progression of things. He added that Good Friday was a different type of day now as most people were working and almost everything else was open.
As regards his own reaction to the change, Mr Dunbar was one of those publicans that was neither for nor against it.
‘I think the older publicans were happy enough without it. I’ve lived my whole life without it and if it hadn’t happened I wouldn’t have seen it as a crisis. But the VFI has been pushing for it for a long time.’
He said that he had not really thought about his plans for Good Friday 2018 yet: ‘I haven’t decided whether I’ll open or not yet. I probably will open at some stage in the day. If my mother was alive, it’d be a different story!’
He was also quick to dispel any suggestion that Christmas Day opening might be next: ‘There’s no demand for it. I’ve spent a lifetime in the business and sat at numerous meetings over the years and I’ve never once heard it mentioned.’
Johnny Gaynor. Michael Wallace. Tom Dunbar.