Northern Ireland

Rain Nightclub's 3am closing time criticised

Rain Nightclub
Image caption Rain Nightclub is now staying open until 3am again

Police and Pubs of Ulster have said they are disappointed that Belfast's Rain nightclub has decided to leave a voluntary agreement to close earlier.

Under last month's agreement, clubs now close at 2am instead of an hour later.

It followed controversy over the death of Joby Murphy who drowned in January after taking part in a drinks promotion at a club in the Odyssey complex.

However, Rain said it had reverted back to its 3am closing time as trade was down and it needed to protect jobs.

The club's managing director Danny Morton said people were going to hotel bars and illegal raves and shebeens to drink late.

He said others were leaving before 2am to get taxis as all clubs were emptying at the same time and clubs not associated with the agreement were still running drinks promotions and allowing customers to stay after 2am.

'Very disappointing'

Earlier, Colin Neill of Pubs of Ulster said of Rain's move: "The decision to go back to closing at 3am is of course very disappointing and we will be engaging with them to discuss the issue further.

"We would like to remind the industry that the agreement has the support and backing of the PSNI and therefore any decision by a licensee to remove themselves from it, will be brought to their attention.

"By demonstrating effective self-regulation and the industry's commitment to responsible practices, we hope to pave the way for modernising the current licensing laws in Northern Ireland.

"This will only happen however if the industry comes together on issues such as 2am closing."

The police also said they were disappointed by Rain's move.

"Rain did notify police of this decision yesterday, and we have asked them to reconsider," a spokesperson said.

"Police have advised Rain nightclub that we will continue to inspect their premises to ensure that they are not trading outside of licensing hours or breaching the licensing laws."

However, Mr Morton of Rain said his club had been "at the forefront" of this agreement.

"Since we signed up to the agreement we have seen a downturn in our business for the reasons above.

"We had to take a decision to revert back to 3am to protect jobs as we would have had to reduce our staff by 24."

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