The change to licensing laws will be welcomed by some across Fermanagh this weekend as the previous Easter opening hours have now been abolished.

From tonight (Thursday, March 14) the previous Easter licensing laws will no longer come into play. Pubs will be able to open at their usual time of 11.30am as opposed to from 5pm on Good Friday and will not have to close early at 10pm.

Late licence

All licensed venues who hold a late licence will also be able to open late under the additional permitted hours until 2am. Off licences will be able to sell alcohol between 8am and 11pm.

One of those who spoke to The Impartial Reporter on the issue was Boho publican Dessie McKenzie who welcomed the changes.

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He said: “It is massive for the industry, we used to close at 10pm on a Good Friday while in the South they weren’t allowed to open at all, and when their laws changed in 2018, people flocked to the South.

He continued: “When you see the way even shopping on a Sunday has changed, it was time for it to change. It is good for business and for the trade it brings, Easter is a key holiday and in the long term it will be a benefit.”

Another reacting was Fermanagh priest, Fr. Brian D’Arcy who said: “There is nobody forcing anybody to go into a bar, and if you don’t want to go into a bar because its Good Friday, don’t.”

He continued: “I remember when there were no supermarkets open on Good Friday and its not that long ago, but now they are all open all day the same as every other day.

“I suppose it is an indication that we don’t live in a religious dominated society and therefore people of conviction have to make choices.”

‘Putting God first’

Indicating his own disappointment that due to his duties as a priest he will miss this weekend’s Ulster GAA championship opening round clash between his beloved Fermanagh and Tyrone, he said: “For example, I could make a choice to not have a religious service on Holy Saturday night and go to the Fermanagh match but as one of the fellas said to me, ‘if you don’t put God first, who will’?”

Religion in society

Reflecting on the role of religion in society, he said: “I think what we have to realise is that we live in a society where Christianity or even religion cannot be legislated for and we have to accept that is the way it is and understand that if you’re a Christian who doesn’t want to drink on Good Friday or shop on Good Friday, the choice is yours to not do it.

“You can’t expect the law to keep the commandments for you, you have to make that choice.”