Nightclubs in the Republic of Ireland may soon be allowed to remain open until 6 AM thanks to an overhaul of the country's licensing laws currently in the works.
The new licensing system would differentiate clubs from pubs and bars, government sources told Extra.ie. The sources said details are not final but are expected to be published by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee "within weeks".
A 6 AM closing time would be a major shift from the 2:30 AM cut-off necessitated by current licensing laws, and that's with a Special Exemption Order (SEO) that venues have to apply for at a cost of €410 per night. (The government temporarily waived SEO fees from October 2021, although that ends this month.) Otherwise, bars must close by 12:30 AM on Fridays and Saturdays, with an earlier close of 11:30 PM in the week and 11 PM on Sunday nights.
Nightclubs are also required to have a Public Dancing Licence, though that is expected to be scrapped in this new legislation.
Give Us The Night, the campaign to improve Irish nightlife conditions co-founded by Sunil Sharpe, responded to the news with a cautiously optimistic tweet: "We'd urge people to wait until an official Gov't announcement is made before celebrating, but yes, we're hopeful that this is the type of time we'll see venues running to, not just in Dublin but nationwide."
GUTN has been lobbying the Irish government not only to allow clubs to operate from 6 PM to 6 AM, but also for a night mayor to advocate for nightlife and to abolish the SEO scheme.
Learn more about the state of Irish clubbing in Seán Finnan's feature and interview with GUTN's Sunil Sharpe from last May here.