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Archive for May 1st, 2008

Northern Ireland’s pubs and bars are facing a “bleak outlook” a year on from the smoking ban, according to the Publican.

Stephen Kelly, chief executive of the Federation of the Retail Licensed Trade Northern Ireland, said he expects the country to lose seven per cent of its pubs over the next two years.

Figures released earlier this year revealed that like-for-like sales in the on-trade have dropped seven per cent since the ban a year ago today. Ninety-three pubs and bars closed between 2005 and last December, the Mintel figures also showed.

Kelly said: “As a piece of health public policy the ban has been a success. But the much promised march of non-smokers has not materialised.”

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I learned a new word when in Dublin. Well, two if you count the fact that a hooker is a fishing vessel.

The word is shebeen. There was media coverage about a splendid excample, and it was easy to understand what it was all about. I looked it up in wikipedia anyway:

Chiefly in Ireland, Scotland, South Africa and Zimbabwe, a shebeen (Irish: sibín) is an illicit bar or clubwhere excisable alcoholic beverages are sold without a licence. In Namibia, such an establishment is known as a Cuca Shop.

The shebeen in question is established by a 33 year old man from Limerick, who tells the Irish Independent that he has been barred from every pub in town, so he decided to invite people to his home instead. Economy is also a factor, with supermarket beer being a lot cheaper than in pubs. Since this is not a licenced place, they don’t feel any obligation to follow the smoking ban, either.

The host claims that he just opens his home to friends, and that they bring their own beer.

The presence of a pool table, satellite TV with a ll channels and a poker machine sound to me a bit more like a public place.

He had beer raided by the Garda (that’s the police) twice in a week before he became a celebrity, I don’t know how he has fared since. 

All types of licensing, regulations and bans on booze has triggered the inventiveness of the public. This has given a platform for organized crime in some countries, in other places there have been thriving cottage industries.

Here in Norway, there has not been any network of illegal or semi-legal drinking clubs. Rather, there have been supposedly dry events, like weekend dances around the countryside, where alcohol was either drunk outside, the bottles being hidden in car trunks or in the bushes, or there was a more or less open consumption of home distilled 90% alcohol, usually being mixed with strong coffee. Beer is not as convenient for getting past the guards in your inner pocket, so the moonshine usually dominated.

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