Judge upholds decision to block Christmas night opening for most clubs

Nightclubs in Donegal today(Fri) lost a tradition of opening for late extensions on Christmas night.

In most areas of the country clubs don’t open on Christmas Day but there has been  tradition in Donegal for about three decades of opening that night.

Judge John O’Hagan upheld a District Court order refusing extensions from one minute past midnight on Christmas night until 2.30 a.m. on Stephen’s Day.

He said it was his experience in the courts that public order and safety threats happened after nightclubs when people were fuelled with drink.

The judge said at Donegal Circuit Court: “Why can’t Christmas be left just being Christmas and let everybody stay at home, including hackney-drivers and bus drivers.?”

He added that if a handful of licensed premises opened after midnight on Chrismas Day “people would flow to these areas like bees to honey.”

He affirmed the order of District Court Judge Paul Kelly who refused extensions to  Jacksons Hotel in Ballybofey, the Fleet In in Downings and Simpsons Club in Carndonagh.

Two other premises also refused by Judge Kelly didn’t lodge a Circuit Court appeal.

The court heard extensions from a minute after midnight on Xmas night were already granted by different judges to one bar in Letterkenny, a premises in Buncrana and clubs in Bundoran.

But Judge O’Hagan said on the evidence he was obliged to refuse extensions in the appeals before him.

He said the gardai were guardians of the peace who had a special role in advising on problems in their particular districts and they had a primary concern to advise courts when public order and safety was under threat