The Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, has announced that the Government intends to create a new 'cafe-bar licence'.

The licence would require qualifying establishments to provide hot food on the premises as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks during opening hours. 

It is one of the proposals to be contained in the Intoxicating Liquor Bill. 

The main purpose of the Bill is to streamline licensing laws by repealing all 600 existing provisions and replacing them with one Act.

All retail liquor licences will now go through the District Court, a new nightclub permit will replace the current exemption order and there will be new arrangements for theatre licence provisions.

The new cafe-bar licence will be available for premises smaller than 130 square metres and will cost less than the going rate for pub licences.

A cafe-bar would operate under the same opening hours as pubs.

Mr McDowell said he hoped the development would help encourage a shift away from binge drinking and would counteract the trend towards super pubs.

The bill does not propose any significant changes in opening hours. A public consultation period will now follow until the end of May.