Reduce opening hours in off-licences to stop house parties, says Minister of State

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Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan has called on the government to consider limiting the  opening hours of off-licenses and the quantity of alcohol that can be bought at one time.

Speaking to Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio One this morning about the government’s decision to move to Level 3, Minister O’Donovan said that house parties and alcohol are “a huge part of the problem”.

“We know that the uncontrolled consumption of alcohol is a problem and I expressed a personal opinion last night that I believe that we need to look at [off-licences].

He said that he is not suggesting that off-licences should close, but that “we need to examine… maybe opening hours, maybe the volumes that people are allowed to purchase at any one time.”

The Fine Gael TD from Limerick, whose brother is a publican, said that Covid has ’eminated from house parties’ and the uncontrolled consumption of alcohol is a problem.

“The controlled consumption of alcohol, ironically, in pubs and in hotels was not the problem that everybody perceived it to be,” he said.

“But because we want people to reduce social interaction, they had two close, and that is really sad for all of those people.”

Responding to Claire Byrne’s question about what restrictions would be acceptable or what might make a difference, Minister O’Donovan said: “Well I tell you what, what, what would make a difference is when you see, and I think everybody would would agree with this, when you see shopping trolleys be pushed out of supermarkets, with nothing in them but alcohol, you know that there’s a problem.”

“I’m not talking about the person going into a Centra and taking home a bottle of wine in the evening – I’m not talking about that at all.

“But what I am talking about is that where you have slabs of cans and numerous bottles being taken home – you know that that’s not being taken home for an after-dinner apéritif [sic].

“You know this is being taken home for a house party and I think we need to exercise common sense on this,” said the Fine Gael TD.