The Republic of Ireland’s government has agreed to radically reform its 200-year-old alcohol licensing laws.
Once legislation is passed pubs will be allowed to stay open seven nights a week until 12.30 and nightclubs will not have to close until 06:00.
The new opening hours are not expected to come into effect until next year.
Announcing the measure at a news conference, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said the pub had a central role in Irish cultural life.
“I believe it is an institution worth protecting and that we should support our publicans – so many of whom have built up local businesses over decades, through generations of the same family,” she added.
Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) Leo Varadkar said the liberalisation of opening hours would bring the Republic into line with other European states.
“Our nightlife does not compare favourably with that of other European countries when it should be as good as anywhere in Europe,” he said.
“Rural pubs are closing, as have many nightclubs in urban areas, while the number of off-licences is increasing. It is not all about alcohol and should not be, but is part of the picture.”
The new licenses can only be granted by the courts but objections will be allowed from fire services, local authorities, the health service executive, local communities and police.
While clubs will be able to play music until closing time at 06:00, drinks cannot be served past 05:00.
The measure has been welcomed by many in the hospitality industry but a pressure group that campaigns about levels of alcoholism has expressed serious concerns.
Speaking on RTÉ, Sheila Gilheany, the chief executive of Alcohol Ireland, said research showed increasing opening hours causes an increase in the harms from alcohol, including violence in different forms, public disorder and increased hospital admissions.