Most of you are probably not aware that today, May 3rd, is Good Friday. Orthodox Good Friday, that is. It was news to me too until I stumbled upon this piece of information a few days before the catholic Good Friday, which we all know and love.
This interesting little tidbit got me wondering how, or if, Good Friday was defined in Irish law. It struck me that, if Good Friday is not properly defined, then the law prohibiting the sale of alcohol on that day is essentially unenforceable.
Reading through the Intoxicating Liquor Acts was of little help, so I emailed the Department of Justice
And the response:-Hi,
I have a question. As we all know it is illegal to sell alcohol on Good Friday. What I would like to know is how, or if, Good Friday is defined in Irish Law. Good Friday is different for different sects of Christianity. Orthodox Good Friday, for example, falls on May 3rd this year. Our state no longer recognises the ‘special position’ of the catholic church and our constitution states that the state shall not endow any religion.
So, is there a loophole in the law?
It's a bit of a politicians answer, in that it does not answer my question at all. But that, in itself, might be quite telling. It took over a month to get this response, and my query seems to have reached the desk of the Minister, so it seems to have been taking reasonably seriously.
Dear Mr H*****
I am directed by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr Alan
Shatter T.D., to refer to your recent e-mail concerning the prohibition of
the sale of alcohol on Good Friday.
The position is that the Government Legislation Programme provides for
publication of the Sale of Alcohol Bill. It is intended that the Bill will
modernise the law relating to the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol
in licensed premises and registered clubs, including the statutory
provisions relating to times when alcohol may be sold, by repealing the
Licensing Acts 1833 to 2011 and the Registration of Clubs Acts 1904 to 2008
and replacing them with streamlined and updated provisions. The statutory
provisions restricting the sale of alcohol on Good Friday, which have
historical origins, will be examined in that context.
Private Secretary to the Minister for
Justice and Equality