In another sign that Catholic influence is waning in Ireland, the government may soon lift a 90-year-old ban on the sale of alcohol on Good Friday.
It would make a lot of sense to do it. After all, if you’re going to let people buy and sell alcohol, why put a restriction on a particular holy day?
Tánaiste [deputy prime minister] Frances Fitzgerald is expected to signal in the coming days that she will not oppose a Bill in the Seanad calling for the restriction to be abolished.
Government sources said this is a firm indication of a policy shift from the Minister for Justice. The change is likely to come into effect for Good Friday 2018.
As you might expect, even with the ban in place, a lot of pubs were serving alcohol under the table.
“I don’t have a strong view on it,” [Minister for Finance Michael] Noonan told the Limerick Leader. “I’m kind of traditionalist, in having at least one day in the year when the pubs aren’t open. But the fact of the matter is that an awful lot of pubs are open anyway, and they are serving alcohol behind closed doors.
More to the point, even if the sale of alcohol is banned on Good Friday, people are still welcome to purchase it beforehand and drink themselves silly at home, even if it is Jesus’ deathday. The law as it stands only hurts the government because it means they’re not getting any taxes that day from a product that people clearly want to buy.
And obviously, Christians who don’t want to drink on that day don’t have to. It’s not like repealing the ban means everyone is forced to drink alcohol.
Maybe all those U.S. cities with blue laws on the books can take a lesson from this: Not everyone is (or needs to be) a Christian. There’s no reason to keep a law on the books when it’s all about promoting some sort of fictional religious purity.