Vint­ners re­act to Good Fri­day move

Gorey Guardian - - NEWS - By ANNA HAYES

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.

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