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.
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.
Get more stories from our Roundup section
9 Mar 2014 19:30 • Lily Dane
A geophysical survey will be completed over coming weeks on the Queen Anne site at Castle Coole, Enniskillen, where a newly opened Lake Walk extension, lined with captivating snowdrops, is proving a welcome development.
9 Mar 2014 16:02
Fermanagh's goal now will be to avoid relegation after defeat to Roscommon today at Brewster Park ended any hopes of promotion.
9 Mar 2014 13:00 • Editorial Department
SINN Fein Councillor Stephen Huggett said he hoped a fellow councillor would place a ‘bomb’ underneath the Housing Executive during a meeting of Fermanagh District Council.
9 Mar 2014 11:30 • Lily Dane
Sheelin Lace London, which recently opened in the capital city, is an expansion of the specialised Fermanagh business, Sheelin Lace.
9 Mar 2014 09:00 • Editorial Department
A 26-year-old disqualified driver who narrowly missed hitting a pedestrian while fleeing from police has been warned he could be jailed for 10 months.
8 Mar 2014 19:00 • Editorial Department
Roscommon come calling to Enniskillen this Sunday and put their 100 percent record on the line against a Fermanagh side who will still be reeling from last weekend’s defeat to Longford in which they threw away a nine point lead at Pearse Park.
8 Mar 2014 17:30
Cliftonville proved too strong for Ballinamallard at Solitude today as they ran out 5-0 winners to maintain their push to retain the Gibson Cup.
8 Mar 2014 15:00 • Meadhbh Monahan
The news that the Education Minister John O’Dowd has accepted Enniskillen Integrated Primary School’s Development Proposal, allowing an increase in year one pupils from 30-56, was being celebrated in style last Friday.
8 Mar 2014 13:00 • Meadhbh Monahan
There were emotional scenes in a Derrylin hair salon last Friday as 10-year-old Katie Corrigan had 10 inches of her beautiful blonde hair cut off.
8 Mar 2014 10:00 • Brian Donaldson
With the 100th anniversary of the First World War being commemorated this year, there are many events throughout the county to mark this historic event.
7 Mar 2014 22:05
Fermanagh manager Pete McGrath has made two changes to his starting team from the side that started against Longford against last Sunday
7 Mar 2014 21:30 • Editorial Department
A shoplifting couple caught stealing clothes from a number of shops in Enniskillen “hope to start afresh” in Belfast.
7 Mar 2014 19:00 • Editorial Department
Ballinamallard United are in for a busy few days with two big games in three days coming up.
7 Mar 2014 15:00
Fermanagh Trust @FermanaghTrust Taxes do NOT cover the cost of Children’s Hospice @NIHospice but do fund play parks, business support services, airport hangars, etc WHY?
7 Mar 2014 13:00 • Editorial Department
ROARING engines and squealing tyres may become a thing of the past in Hollyhill link car park after Fermanagh District Council teamed up with the PSNI and Road Service to tackle the problem.
7 Mar 2014 11:50 • Editorial Department
Police are releasing an efit image based on a description of a man they would like to speak to.
7 Mar 2014 11:00 • Lily Dane
Pictured 50 years ago are Mrs. Florence Carrothers, Saloon, Ballinamallard (on right) and Miss Dorrie Foy, of Wheathill, Derrygonelly, who share the Hassard Cup as they were equal in gaining the greatest number of points in the home baking section of the County Show.
7 Mar 2014 10:00 • Rodney Edwards
SINN Fein’s Phil Flanagan (pictured) has described the behaviour of some financial institutions as “disgraceful” after he was charged £168 for four failed direct debit payments by his bank.
7 Mar 2014 09:25
Holders Enniskillen Town Utd will have to overcome Junior Cup semi-finalists Lisnarick if they are to book their place in the quarter-finals of the Impartial Reporter Mulhern Cup.