News article

Alcohol at special events: consultation

27 March 2019


Consultation seeks views on the sale and supply of alcoholic drinks at ‘special events’ in Northern Ireland

In advance of the 148th Open, Royal Portrush, the Department for Communities (DfC) has launched a consultation on proposed changes to licensing law which would benefit the hospitality and tourism sectors in Northern Ireland.

DfC is consulting at this time because a change in law before the 148th Open takes place will contribute to the success of the event and improve the prospects of this event and others coming to Northern Ireland in the near future.

Special event status
The consultation is seeking views on changing the law to provide the DfC with the power to designate an event taking place in Northern Ireland as a ‘special event’.

DfC, having designated an event as a ‘special event’, would then have the power to vary permitted hours for the sale of alcoholic drinks at the event. It would also have the power to permit the sale of alcoholic drinks for consumption off the premises at special events. This includes food and drink shows where exhibitors wish to sell their products to visitors.

Permitted hours for sale of alcohol
DfC is aware that the organisers of a number of prestigious events held in Northern Ireland believe that restrictions around permitted hours for the sale of alcoholic drinks, and the sale of such drinks for consumption at home, have a negative impact on their events.

The number of ‘special events’ is expected to be very small. The type of premises which may benefit from such a designation would be limited and conditions would be imposed where necessary.

DfC believes that it is important to recognise the significant contribution the hospitality industry makes to the local economy, and assist it where possible. It is also important that the public is protected from alcohol related harm and the DfC welcomes views on the conditions that should be attached to any change in permitted hours.

The consultation period will run until 5pm on 3 May 2019.

Find full details of the sale and supply of alcoholic drinks at special events in Northern Ireland consultation.