N. Ireland Politics

Alcohol law 'must change' for Ireland's Rugby World Cup bid, Ulster chief says

The Webb Ellis Trophy, also known as the Rugby World Cup Image copyright ALLSPORT/Getty Images
Image caption A bid for the Rugby World Cup required certainty over alcohol licensing, Ulster Rugby's chief said

A bid for Ireland to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup would have to be withdrawn unless Northern Ireland's licensing law is changed, the chief executive of Ulster Rugby has said.

Shane Logan made the comments during a meeting of the Northern Ireland Assembly's social development committee.

It is taking evidence as part of its review of the Licensing Bill.

The bill would allow outdoor stadiums to apply for licences to sell alcohol.

Granted

Currently, stadium operators have to apply for temporary licences.

Mr Logan said, as it stands, there are up to 19 professional games played a year at Ulster Rugby's Kingspan Stadium in Belfast.

Each time, Ulster Rugby has to apply to a court for an occasional licence, and it has "no certainty" of a licence in advance, as these are only granted on the day of the match, he said.

He said that while Ulster Rugby had never been refused an occasional licence, it had "bid for events with certainty of licensing".

Proposed

"This precludes us from bidding for major events," Mr Logan said.

"We would not be able to fulfil the criteria for access to alcohol bars and family access to entertainment that is required to allow us to bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup."

"[With] the law as it stands, we would have to withdraw from that."

The Licensing Bill is a private member's bill proposed by Judith Cochrane, the Alliance Party MLA.

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