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Yui Mok/PA Wire
World News

Bishop defends Ireland's Good Friday booze ban

by Antony Bushfield

Alphonsus Cullinan said: "They cannot object to the ban on alcohol sales on Good Friday adversely affecting their trade because at different occasions they greatly benefit from other religious feasts in terms of increased business."

His comments follow a decision by Ireland's Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, that there would be no change to the country's Good Friday alcohol ban.

It prevents alcohol being sold in bars on the day each year. The minister said the government "won't be doing it this year" when asked if the policy could be reversed.

In response the Licensed Vintners Association and Vintners Federation of Ireland said it was "extremely disappointed".

The Chief Executive of the LVA, Donall O'Keeffe said: "Once again thousands of tourists and holiday goers are going to be at a loss wondering why they can't go to a pub for a drink"

Padraig Cribben of the VFI said: "Frankly it's an embarrassment that this legislation is still in force in 2016.

"Previously the Minister indicated that Good Friday trading would be permitted in the context of the Sale of Alcohol Bill and she has had plenty of time to advance that legislation.

"Most other retail businesses will be open and trading but once again the licensed trade will be closed. For a Government which claims to be pro-business and seeking election it makes no sense,"

But Bishop Alphonsus condemned the alcohol industry and said they were happy to celebrate religious festivals like Christmas when it meant more income.

He added: "What kind of example are we setting to our young people if we as a society cannot do without alcohol on sale for this one day?

"The problems associated with the abuse of alcohol are there for all to see, especially in terms of the health impact on the individual, the damage to family stability, and public order offences.

"If Ireland can at least do without the sale of alcohol on Good Friday, we can show our young people that alcohol does not have to be an integral part of our national character and, as importantly, that we can restrain ourselves for a higher goal at least to some degree."

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