Galway Gardaí have confirmed that they have no plans to take a more lenient approach to opening hours in the city, saying they are simply implementing the law.
The backlash towards a recent garda clampdown on opening hours for bars and nightclubs continued this week, with almost 4,000 signing an online petition to stop the ‘early closing’ of the premises and ‘help save jobs in the nightlife industry’.
The petition calls for late bars and clubs to be allowed to stay open until 2am from Sunday to Thursday, rather than the legal closing time of 1am.
“We all have many good friends in the industry from club owners to floor staff and I fear I’m going to be seeing less of them in the clubs and pubs and more of them in the social welfare offices if this law is going to continued to be enforced,” the petition reads.
“Surely common sense has to prevail or will the Government have to intervene when publicans and club owners can’t afford to pay their rates, the VAT payments for the said industries drop dramatically etc. It’s a huge downward spiral, which is going to affect every business in the town associated with late night trade, not to mention the knock-on effect it will have on trade in general in the city as time goes by.”
A number of premises in the city have been cleared by gardaí at 1am in recent weeks in an attempt to enforce the legal standard for closing hours. While regular hours dictate that bars should stop serving at 11.30pm midweek, a bar extension can be obtained from Galway District Court to extend this deadline to 1am at a cost of €440 per night.
However, these closing times have not been heavily enforced in the past, with premises remaining open until 2am.
In a statement this week, NUI Galway Students’ Union became the latest group to back efforts to get these hours extended, saying that the clampdown could endanger student jobs.
“These same students are under massive financial pressure to save for accommodation deposits and the annual Student Contribution Charge before they start back to college next month,” said President Paul Curley.
“I worked in the nightclub industry myself to pay my way through college and without that job, I would’ve been forced to drop out of college and join the dole queues. We are asking that the gardaí put forward a more viable solution to the matter that won’t put hundreds of part time jobs at risk.”
Speaking to the Galway Independent this week, a spokesperson for Mill Street Garda Station reaffirmed the gardaí’s commitment to the operation.
“We are just enforcing the law as part of this operation and that’s all there is to say on it really,” they said.