More legal concerns ahead of Fleadh
A HOST family scheme proposed for visitors to the Londonderry UK City of Culture Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2013 may be illegal under current tourist accommodation law in Northern Ireland, it has emerged.
In March the Sentinel reported how boozy revellers attending the Fleadh next year could expect ‘craic agus ceol’ and a £500 maximum fine if caught sipping pints at al fresco sessions under strict anti-drink bye-laws in Londonderry.
Now it appears the rush to find accommodation for the expected influx of musicians and music lovers next year may also fall foul of the law.
Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment Arlene Foster whether she would consider relaxing 1992 legislation in relation to accommodation to allow for host families during the Fleadh.
Under the Categories of Tourist Establishment (Statutory Criteria) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1992(3), which were amended last year, only hotels, guest houses, bed and breakfast establishments, self-catering establishments, hostels, bunk houses, campus accommodation and guest accommodation are regulated as tourist digs in Northern Ireland.
It appears from the criteria for the various accommodation types under the law that a lay host family would struggle to make the grade.
The Tourism Minister admitted she needs more information before she could make a definitive statement on the potential legal implications.
“My Department has provided advice to the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) on how alternative accommodation options, such as a host family scheme, might potentially be accommodated under the existing legislation governing the certification of tourism accommodation.
“In providing this advice, my Department officials have highlighted the need for further information before a definitive position on the potential legislative implications can be reached.
“Officials in DETI will continue to work in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) to ensure that accommodation options for 2013 are maximised,” she stated.
Last Spring Derry City Council confirmed it was reviewing strict city bye-laws to see if they can fit more easily with a major programme of outdoor events planned for the city over the next two years.
Londonderry’s local authority is death on booze and its strict street drinking bye-laws enforced since October 2009, ban the consumption of alcohol in public places. This may prove awkward during Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann which is scheduled to be held here as part of Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013.
Traditionally, the music festival involves a week of competition and culminates in a weekend of music sessions often spilling from public houses onto the street.
People breaking the Londonderry street drinking bye-laws in 2013, however, will risk fines of up to £500. During the last year alone 56 people have been cautioned for boozing in public in the city.
Notwithstanding the strict booze embargo a spokesperson for Derry City Council said it was “looking at a range of options moving forward in relation to the bye-laws and how they fit with major outdoor events in the run up to and during 2013.”
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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