Calls for change to allow Northern Ireland’s beer and pubs to thrive.

Consumer group the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has welcomed the launch today (14th October) of a public consultation by the Department for Communities on the effectiveness of alcohol licensing laws in Northern Ireland.

Civil servants held a consultation earlier in the year on whether to allow more relaxed licensing laws for special events ahead of the Open golf tournament at Portrush in July. Officials have now launched another consultation looking at wider reforms of the sale of alcohol.

CAMRA NI wants to see local brewers and cider makers be able to serve their produce in shops and taprooms on their premises, run brewery tours and sell at local events and markets to help promote their products, as well as the ability to sell online. It argues that restrictive laws have held back local brewing businesses which want to expand.

The consumer organisation is also calling for changes to restrictive rules on local pubs.

CAMRA Director for Northern Ireland Sarah Crawford and Chair of CAMRA NI Ruth Sloan said: “Northern Ireland’s outdated licensing laws mean that businesses, pub-goers and tourists here are at more of a disadvantage than anywhere else across these islands.

“This consultation is a chance to bring alcohol laws into the 21st century, to allow local brewing and pub businesses to expand and thrive, as well as to make sure that residents and tourists alike can get access to tasty, locally-produced brews.

“We need to give pubs more flexibility over things like opening hours and the types of beers they sell, as well as recognise their importance as community assets helping tackle loneliness and support responsible drinking.

“We’d also like to see changes to allow local brewers and cider producers to be able to open taprooms, run brewery tours, sell online and sell at local events and markets. This would allow Northern Ireland’s beer scene to catch up with the rest of the UK where local breweries are going from strength to strength.”

For details on the consultation, and an opportunity to repond, visit the Department for Communities here.

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