Gardaí have called for clarity about the legislation surrounding serving alcohol in temporary outdoor seating areas.
They are joined by publicans and restaurateurs who have been left unsure about the legislation that surrounds outdoor dining and the consumption of alcohol in outdoor areas.
This comes as gardaí confirmed that pubs and restaurants are not permitted by law to serve alcohol in temporary outdoor seating areas due to a lack of coverage from licensing laws.
Vice President of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) Brendan O’Connor stated on RTÉ that there was “absolute confusion” in regards to the legislation and that gardaí are being expected to police the situation using discretion and common sense which was leaving its members facing disciplinary issues in the future.
O’Connor stated that gardaí would be expected to act if they observed a breach in the law regarding outdoor alcohol service but asked who would be held accountable for those decisions.
He stated, “There is absolute confusion because there are so many different pieces of legislation and statute and it’s individual Gardaí and the members we represent that would be sent out and try to police this,”.
The Department of Justice told RTÉ that premises “who continue to behave responsibly in controlling their premises should have nothing to worry about” and that there would be different legal situations depending on whether by-laws are in place.
Speaking to the Irish Times, Barrister Constance Cassidy SC stated that as long as alcohol is purchased in a pub or restaurant and that there are no local bye-laws restricting the consumption of alcohol while outdoors, then there is no breach of any law.
She stated, “The law is clear. There is nothing in the licensing code to prevent outdoor drinking: the only illegality that can occur is where there is a prohibition in the form of a Bye Law made by the local authority forbidding consumption of alcohol in a public place,”.