Minister Hargey recently took a Bill to modernise liquor licensing in Northern Ireland through the next stage in the legislative process.
The new bill will allow for pubs and clubs to serve alcohol until 2am most weekends of the year. It will also reform Easter licensing laws, removing restrictions.
It could be introduced as early as the autumn if it passes the final stage over the coming weeks and receives Royal Assent.
The Assembly were this week given the opportunity to vote on amendments to The Licensing and Registration of Clubs (Amendment) Bill, which was introduced to it on 19 October last year.
There will then only be one more Assembly stage left in the legislative process before “these important and long awaited” changes are finalised, the Minister said.
“Pubs and nightclubs will be able to serve alcohol until 2am and stay open until 3am.
“Easter weekend will also have modern opening hours for the first time, bringing the law into the 21st century.
“This is really positive news as not only will it help businesses recover, it will also bring life back into our city and town centres.”
Minister Hargey said: “The reform of licensing is a priority for this Executive under the New Decade, New Approach Deal and I am pleased to see modernisation is within reach.
“While supporting the hospitality industry, it is my duty to also be mindful of the negative impact that the harmful consumption of alcohol can cause, to individuals and to whole communities.
“This Bill therefore also includes the relevant safeguards to ensure that people are protected from alcohol-related harms.”
“I look forward to taking this Bill through its Consideration Stage today and next stages in the coming weeks and to deliver on this much anticipated reform.”
More detail on the Bill, including the list of proposed amendments, is available at: www.niassembly.gov.uk/assembly-business/legislation/2017-2022-mandate/primary-legislation---bills-2017---2022-mandate/licensing-and-registration-of-clubs-amendment-bill/The next stage of the Bill is its Further Consideration Stage in the Assembly on 21 June 2021. Following this, the Bill will have a Final Stage before receiving Royal Assent.
It is expected the majority of the provisions in the Bill when finalised will become law in October this year, with some requiring a longer lead in time.