Minister Hargey delivers liquor licensing modernisation

Date published: 29 June 2021

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has today finalised a Bill to modernise outdated liquor licensing legislation here.

Minister Hargey sitting at her desk

The Minister said she was delighted to deliver this much anticipated reform.  The licensing Bill was a priority for the Minister when taking up post and it has now completed its Final Stage in the Assembly.


The Minister said:

“I’m delighted to deliver the long awaited modernisation of liquor licensing laws.  Today sees the Bill reach a milestone, completing its legislative passage through the Assembly.  I want to acknowledge and thank the contribution of the many stakeholders that have been involved.  This is a momentous day in delivering a more modern, flexible licensing system.”


The Minister continued:

“This legislation has been a priority for me. I have ensured that we are mindful of the potential harmful impact of alcohol, with this Bill including some very important measures to restrict the availability and promotion of alcohol as well as added protections for children and young people.


"I know from my engagement with the hospitality sector, that it is so important to them to have a more flexible and modern licensing system.  This will be welcomed as they continue to recover from the impacts of Covid-19.”


The Bill includes the following changes to licensing laws:-


  • Pubs and Hotels can apply to open until 2am up to 104 nights per year;
  • Smaller pubs will be able to open to 1am up to 104 nights per year;
  • Drinking-up time will be increased to 1 hour;
  • All additional restrictions on opening  hours over Easter weekend will be removed;
  • Opening hours on Sunday evenings will be the same as any other night;
  • There will be flexibility around opening hours for bars at major events;
  • A new category of licence will be created for local producers of craft beers, ciders and spirits;
  • Cinemas will be able to apply for a liquor licence and serve drink to customers watching a movie;
  • Sporting clubs will be able to use their grounds for functions up to 6 times per year;
  • Registered clubs will be able to open to 1am up to 104 nights per year;
  • Self-service of alcohol and sales by vending machines will be prohibited;
  • Restrictions will be placed on off-sales drinks promotions;
  • Loyalty schemes will not be able to award or redeem points for the sale of alcoholic drinks.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Bill will now be put forward for Royal Assent.  It is expected the majority of the provisions in the Bill will become law in October this year, with some requiring a longer lead in time.
  2. Media enquiries to DFC Press Office on email 
  3. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
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