Dozens of pubs could go to the wall in licensing row

Published: 24 Oct 2012 11:34

The police have been accused of putting the future of dozens of pubs and the livelihoods of hundreds of people in Fermanagh at risk because of the "extreme way" they are enforcing the licensing laws.

Tom Elliott.

The police have been accused of putting the future of dozens of pubs and the livelihoods of hundreds of people in Fermanagh at risk because of the "extreme way" they are enforcing the licensing laws.

The warning from Pubs of Ulster, representing the retail licensed trade, comes following a meeting between police, publicans and local politicians in Irvinestown.

Following a landmark legal case the police have been checking premises to see if they are complying with the conditions of an Article 44 extension to their licence, allowing them to serve drink until 1am.

Those pubs that fail to comply, because they are not providing live entertainment or a substantial meal, cannot serve drink after 11pm.

Colin Neill, chief executive of Pubs of Ulster, fears that the enforcement of the licensing laws in this way will cause irreparable damage to the local economy.

Speaking after the meeting in Irvinestown, he said: "Pubs of Ulster are greatly concerned about the Article 44 issue in Fermanagh and whilst we understand and appreciate that the PSNI have the best intentions, we believe that the blanket objection (to the renewal of Article 44) is very heavy handed. We are concerned that these actions will damage forever an industry already struggling to survive.

"We are encouraged however by the constructive meeting held with the PSNI, local publicans and local MLAs. The meeting was very much an open forum, allowing over 60 concerned publicans to express the genuine fear they have for the future of their businesses. We hope that the PSNI now reflect on the concerns raised and continue to engage with Pubs of Ulster and the local trade to find a way forward that safeguards the future of pubs in the area," he added.

A number of local MLAs have also joined Pubs of Ulster in the call for a more appropriate approach to licensing laws, especially in relation to Article 44 applications, with a number also attending the meeting with the PSNI and local publicans.

Sinn Fein MLA Phil Flanagan said: "As someone who worked for many years in the hospitality sector in Fermanagh, I completely understand the frustrations of the local licensees at the approach being taken by the PSNI to this issue, particularly given the tough economic circumstances the pub industry is currently facing.

"There is a certain amount of flexibility that the PSNI need to exercise in this regard and that must begin with the removal of their objection to Article 44 applications and continuing to engage pro-actively with licensees in Fermanagh to rectify this situation," he said

"There is currently a review of licensing laws under way and it is imperative that local vintners have their say and that future laws meet the needs of a rural and tourist area like Fermanagh. As an MLA concerned about the future of the local pub industry, I will ensure that their voice is heard," he added.

Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott said: "It is unfortunate that at this very difficult economic time many businesses within the service and hospitality sector could be forced out of business due to an inflexible approach from the authorities.

"I do not believe the current system is proving any more problematic than a change of implementation would, indeed it could be more practical for police to control and maintain. There is in general an excellent relationship between licence holders and the police. It is crucial for that to continue," he stated.

"The hospitality sector plays a vital role within Fermanagh's tourism and we need to support those within it as much as possible," said Mr. Elliott.

Pubs of Ulster said it would continue to engage with local pubs, as well as the PSNI and local MLAs, in order to find a way forward and ultimately ensure the future of the licensed trade in Fermanagh and throughout Northern Ireland.

Jump to first paragraph.

Get more stories from our Roundup section

22 Apr 2014 17:00

Mallards slip into bottom two

Ballinamallard United slipped into the bottom two in the Danske Bank Premiership on goal difference following today's 2-2 draw with Dungannon Swifts at Ferney Park.


22 Apr 2014 15:00 • Editorial Department

Opinion - Kylie Noble - Why I’m excited to vote for the first time

The rites of passage of growing up vary from person to person but throughout my own life events such as turning 13, my first formal, my GCSE and A level results, my 18th birthday (and my first and to date only hangover that followed), getting into university and moving away from home are just a few which I imagine are pretty common landmarks among my generation.

Social: Comments0 comments

22 Apr 2014 15:00

Rucksacks stolen in car break-in

A car was broken into at Navar Forest near Derrygonnelly last night (Monday).


22 Apr 2014 13:00 • Rodney Edwards

Stormont Files: Farm Watch designed to prevent rural crime - O'Neill

FARMERS in Fermanagh are being encouraged by the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) in Enniskillen to take part in the Farm Watch Scheme, an initiative endorsed by Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill.


22 Apr 2014 12:00

Lisnaskea home attacked

A house in Lisnaskea has been attacked.


22 Apr 2014 11:00 • Rodney Edwards

Stormont Files: Litter droppers approach MLA to quash £75 fine

A NUMBER of people in Fermanagh have been fined £75 for “dropping a cigarette butt or a sweet paper” on the street, according to UUP MLA Tom Elliott.

Social: Comments0 comments

22 Apr 2014 09:00

Motorist knew insurance shown to police had been cancelled

A 47-year-old factory worker has admitted fraudulently using a certificate of car insurance by showing it to the police, knowing it had been cancelled.


21 Apr 2014 22:30

Man(20) took father's car without consent

A 20-year-old man thought he was being “sensible” when he got behind the wheel of a crashed car to drive it home.


21 Apr 2014 19:00

Jail sentence for driver caught without insurance four times in two weeks

A 30-year-old car dealer caught driving without insurance four times in two weeks despite paying out £3,500 in premiums has been given a jail sentence.


21 Apr 2014 17:30

Number out of work in Fermanagh fell by 2.4 per cent in March

Unemployment in Fermanagh fell by 2.4 per cent last month.


21 Apr 2014 15:00 • Meadhbh Monahan

Steering a safe path of expansion through the downturn

Liam Connolly Road Freight (LCRF) provides groupage services (i.e. from single pallet collections to full double-deck trailer collections) for over 300 customers throughout Ireland and the UK each day.

Social: Comments0 comments

21 Apr 2014 13:00 • Rodney Edwards

Irish President is latest to commend work of Enniskillen church leaders

THE work of Enniskillen’s two main church leaders, the Very Rev. Kenneth Hall and Monsignor Peter O’Reilly, has received a warm acknowledgement from yet another head of state.

Social: Comments0 comments

21 Apr 2014 09:00 • Editorial Department

Not against a community centre but not on ‘our doorstep’

“WE are not against a community centre, we just don’t want it on our doorstep.”

Social: Comments0 comments

20 Apr 2014 19:00

'We want to do it for the supporters' - Davy Black

Clogher Valley coach David Black has vowed to make up for their All Ireland Junior Cup Final defeat by winning the Ulster Towns’ Cup for their supporters when they take on Donaghadee at Ravenhill on Easter Monday.


20 Apr 2014 15:00 • Julie Kenwell

Family ‘sick of thought’ of third round of heart surgery for Alfie

THE family of Bellanaleck toddler, Alfie Keys are nervously looking ahead to this September.

Social: Comments0 comments

20 Apr 2014 13:00 • Editorial Department

Trust identifies ‘extreme risks’ that could kill patients

Extreme risks have been identified by the Western Trust which could “compromise client safety” or even lead to “injury or death of patients or staff”.

Social: Comments0 comments

20 Apr 2014 09:00 • Editorial Department

‘End of an era’ for Leslie and McCrea family

Tempo Primary’s long serving caretaker - whose family has a long connection with the Fermanagh school - was paid a warm tribute at the start of the school’s Easter Holidays.

Social: Comments0 comments

19 Apr 2014 21:00 • Brian Donaldson

First election nominations made at Townhall

The countdown to the first election for seats on the new Fermanagh and Omagh District Council on May 22 has begun with the first candidates nominating at Enniskillen Townhall this week.

Social: Comments0 comments

19 Apr 2014 17:10

Mallards gain another crucial point in safety battle

Ballinamallard took another step closer to safety as they claimed a share of the spoils at home to Ballymena today.


19 Apr 2014 15:00 • Meadhbh Monahan

Leading anti-fracker believes local protesters are on the right track

Founder of Frack Free Sussex and Britain and Ireland Frack Free, Vanessa Vine visited Enniskillen last Saturday to discuss the local anti-fracking campaign.

Social: Comments0 comments