Am I missing something here? Thirty years ago I ran an off licence (The Vintage) with my two brothers in Blackrock, Co. Dublin. At the time a wine licence only would have been commercial suicide. No beers, no spirits, no business. Have a look at the following from Saturday's Irish Times.
The Spar in the old Burton’s Store on Dublin’s Dame Street, Dublin, has been granted a full drinks licence despite protests by Temple Bar Traders and a nearby grocery shop owner.
Senior counsel Constance Cassidy told the Circuit Civil Court that Charles McCarthy, trading as CC Retail Ltd, which owns Spar at 19-20 Dame Street, had wanted a full drinks licence to help boost turnover. There was a customer demand for an off-licence in the area. Ms Cassidy said Spar had applied last year for a licence and had been met by an objection from Martin Harte, managing director of Temple Bar Traders, and also from Enda Martin, owner of the Centra Store that was almost opposite the Spar shop. Centra held a full drinks licence.
Ms Cassidy said that after a hearing in the District Court in November 2011 Spar had been granted a wine licence only and was appealing the decision.
Circuit Court president Mr Justice Matthew Deery, granting the full drinks licence, said Dame Street was a busy area and the Spar store was in a different neighbourhood from Temple Bar.
|Ah, we knew how to sell Lambrusco!|
1. Current numbers show that wine is THE growth area in the Irish drinks industry. Despite this the argument was made in court, and apparently accepted by the court, that a full drinks licence was necessary to boost turnover. Fair play to those who made the argument.I hope that the court requested a few facts and figures to help it to understand why a full licence was necessary.
2. Anyone who knows Dame street can only agree that Temple Bar is indeed in a different neighbourhood to this new Spar store. 'Different' here, of course, is also being used disingenuously. It's on the other side of the bloody street! This makes the corner of O'Connell Street and Henry Street as different as the corner of O'Connell Street and Earls St N with nothing to separate them than a wide busy road and the Spire of Dublin!
3. 'Dame Street is a busy area'. What, can anyone tell me, has this anything whatsoever to do with whether a drinks licence should be awarded. Of course it's busy. It's downtown Dublin. It's busy with bankers, taxis, buses, bicycles, bin trucks, children on school tours, nuns walking the streets, tourists, hawkers, chancers, politicians, students making their way to DU, cars, lots of cars, office workers jostling for position. All busy and less stressed now that their need for a full drinks licence has been awarded? I just don't get it?
4. Objections. It seems that objector's to drinks licences in Ireland are treated as the Great Dampeners of the Great Irish Way of Life. If 'busyness' is important and 'location' is important then surely so also is commercial viability. It is not easy to make a profit selling drink these days. It's unlikely that Centra on Dames Street is making a fortune out of his drinks licence. It has however allowed him to provide a quality service and secure employment. How dare he object and not be allowed to use these as valid arguments. No, the court would have laughed at these. Your Business is of no concern here Mr Centra. This is a Court of Law. We have our own way of determining whether a business should stay in business or not.
5. Is this is all about getting the students of DU, usually known as Trinity, onside. One wonders is this all about the Spar store needing the students. Right now these lads and lassies don't seem to have a problem going across to the 'other neighbourhood' - across the street - to pick up their beers and vodka. One can only wonder. Fair play to the legal team behind Spar. Good result.
Am I missing something here? Well, for one it seems that a wine only licence is still not good enough. Where have the last thirty years gone to?
Secondly, I thought our Roisin Shortall was tightening things up and that, whether we agreed with it or not, a full drinks licence was about to be treated with more repect than it has been for the past few years. If licencing laws are interpreted by our courts like this case on Dame Street then our Roisin is going to have quite a battle on her hands. Respect is only a word and in law means nothing without an argument behind it.
I'm glad I live on the other side of the street where my neighbourhood is not so busy, that I am capable of walking across the road if I need something and that I recognise both the value of a sensible drink culture and also when the law is being used unwisely.
|Roisn Shortall, Junior Minister. from www.boards.ie|