Our last “dry” Good Friday. Something to welcome or lament?
As we count down the days to the Easter weekend, the discussion around Good Friday and the traditional closure of the pubs inevitably rears its head. Each year we hear reports of tourists who are slightly dismayed as they wander around the city looking to taste a pint of the black stuff. People talk of plans to stock up on Thursday, because, shock horror, the pubs and off licences are not open for one day … yes 24 hours… a whole 1440 minutes.
Traditionally in what was regarded as Catholic Ireland, Good Friday was a day of abstinence from alcohol and meat, a day of rest before the Easter celebrations. rowever, Recent figures from Census 2016, announced last week, show a changing Ireland and society. While we still remain a predominantly Catholic country, the number who say they are Catholic has decreased from 84.2% to 78.3%, with the number who say they have no religion grew by 73.6%.
In 1960 the ban of alcohol being sold on St. Patrick’s Day was repealed so that visitors could celebrate our national holiday with an alcoholic drink, leaving Christmas Day and Good Friday the only two days of the year when you can’t buy a drink.
Each year the publicans call for the Good Friday law to be changed, citing the negative impact it has on tourism and trade for one of the busiest weekends of the year. It looks like their calls are finally being listened to with the announcement that the Government is unlikely to oppose a Private Members Bill this week from a number of Senators who are proposing that this country lifts the 90 year old ban on the sale of alcohol on Good Friday.
So with 2017 looking like it will be our last dry Good Friday the discussion turns to whether this is a positive step, sensible in the changing country that we live, or is it sad to see the demise of this 90 year old tradition? Given the enormous importance of tourism and overseas tourists to our economy, it’s hard to argue against those who claim that the Good Friday ban is now well past its sell-by date.