SEO’s (Special Exemption Orders) for late night venues are due to be reinstated today. This requires late night venues to pay a €410 fee per night to operate as a late-bar or nightclub, this by definition means every night a bar or nightclub opens up is a ‘special event’, not only in this a derogatory way to view a whole culture, but threatens our industry, as many venues will struggle to pay this fee to operate regularly.
Words: Nathan Clare
While I am ecstatic at the fact that clubs have reopened, and people are gradually finding their way back to the dance floor it must be said that things do not feel as populated or as lively as before. I feel this not only as someone who is involved with working in a late night venue but also as a promoter. Most importantly as a dancer and club-goer.
Club shows and bookings that are considered to sell-out or be well received are underperforming. Many people are finding it difficult to regain the positive strides they were making before the pandemic. Coupling this with an increase to the cost of living and rise in inflation that has taken place over the last few months and the needless attack on Ukraine from Russia, which directly affects global trade with things like wheat and crude oil hitting record highs. This does have an adverse effect on many nations globally and Ireland is included in this.
There has been a shift in people’s spending and people find themselves with less expendable income than before. The demographic for consistent party goers has become increasingly concentrated on the younger generation who are low income earners though they have less overheads to worry about. This has an overall negative effect on venues and promoters as the
population of people who can enjoy a night out is shrinking. Combining this with the reintroduction of the special exemption orders (SEOs), this is a recipe destined to reap havoc on the already struggling night-time industry.
Give Us The Night posted yesterday in relation to the reintroduction of SEOs. The money that is expected to be committed towards these fees for the month of May is to be put forward by Friday (today).
The full post can be read, quoted here;
We wanted to let you know about a situation that is developing that threatens the immediate future of venues and events around the country. The Government has, since the industry reopened, waived late licence fees (€410 per night) for venues to open beyond normal pub hours. The Government, however, now wants to reintroduce these fees. Venues are expected to commit the money towards these fees for the month of May by today.
The industry is trying to recover, and this will lead to venues not opening as regularly, less events taking place, less gigs to play at or go to, a loss of employment, and worse again the distinct possibility of more venue losses. Given the work that has already been undertaken by a range of government departments, to help revive and improve nightlife, we cannot understand why the Government would choose to reimpose these fees (which amount to tiny small change for the Exchequer).
These discriminatory costs, known as Special Exemption Orders (SEOs), only apply to nightclubs because successive governments have not bothered to create specific licences, forcing the industry into an antiquated licensing system that is relevant to traditional bars and so-called ‘special events’ from bygone eras. A specific licence has been promised since 2005, and with a bit of luck this licence will finally be established by later this year.
While we continue to wait (14 months on from the Department of Justice’s official announcement of a revised licensing bill), we see it as being a huge error of judgement by this government, if it reintroduces SEO costs at this point. We need Ministers Paschal Donohoe and Michael McGrath, as well as their cabinet colleagues, to instead continue the waiver until the end of the year when licensing reforms should finally be in place.
We urge you to contact the relevant ministers to tell them that this waiver must be extended. There’s also a link to a template email you can use in our bio (thanks to Uplift Ireland for their ongoing interest). Please pass the message around and encourage your friends and colleagues to get in contact too. We urgently need the Government to address this issue.