Northern Ireland news

Outdated licensing laws 'will leave rugby fans disappointed'

Rory Best will captain Ireland at the World Cup in Japan. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Mairead Holland

RUGBY fans will be let down by outdated rules on pub opening hours in Northern Ireland, a consumer group has claimed.

The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) has spoken out ahead of the World Cup, which takes place from September 20 - November 2 in Japan.

The situation has been compounded by the time difference which means that some Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England games will start as early as 8.15am.

MP Sir Vince Cable and industry group UK Hospitality are calling on the UK government to relax licensing laws to allow pubs in England and Wales to open and serve alcohol earlier in the morning during the tournament.

Ruth Sloan, chairperson of Camra NI, said that if the changes go ahead it will be yet another example of Northern Ireland being left behind, with fans missing out on games.

“Locals and visitors to our part of the UK will want to watch World Cup games and may wish to enjoy a beer at the same time - but they won't be allowed to with the inflexible and outdated current licensing laws," she said.

"Instead of watching the game in a social and supervised environment like a local pub, I fear that the current situation will encourage people to buy cheap alcohol at a supermarket and drink at home instead.

"That is not only bad for business, but bad for our health."

Plans to change licensing laws for the Open golf tournament at Portrush in July received support in a Department for Communities public consultation but legislation couldn't be passed in the Assembly and wasn't taken forward at Westminster.

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