The Dáil has passed legislation to allow the sale of alcohol on Good Friday and it will now go to the President to be signed into law.

An amendment to the Intoxicating Liquor Act introduced by a number of independent Senators was tabled in the Dáil.

Introducing the bill, Minister of State David Stanton said removing the ban on selling alcohol on Good Friday would help Irish tourism.

"Tourism makes a much greater contribution to our economy and this is particularly true during holidays, such as the busy Easter period.

"In addition changing demographics and increasing diversity in our population have led to a reduction in traditional religious practice.

"Taking all these factors into consideration the Government considered that it was an opportune time to have an examination of the Good Friday restrictions," he said.

Fianna Fáil's Jim O'Callaghan said the provision has been in place since 1927 and should now be removed.

He told the Dáil a prohibition on selling alcohol on St Patrick's Day was removed in the 1960s because it affected tourism.

Mr O'Callaghan said people often found ways of circumventing the ban.

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Time called on Good Friday alcohol ban

He said: "It used to be the case that people would go to the dog show where you could buy alcohol and get a drink on Good Friday.

"There were occasions where people would go on the train, if you had a ticket for the train, you could buy alcohol on the train.

"We've also heard examples of people when they go into restaurants, maybe putting wine in the teapot, which really undermined the law.

"So what we're seeing is a sensible reason as to why we should change the law to remove the prohibition on Good Friday."

Sinn Féin's Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said the ban was an anomaly that should be removed.

However, he cautioned against removing a ban on the sale of alcohol on Christmas Day for the sake of workers.

Opposing the removal of the ban, Independent TD Maureen O'Sullivan said the bill was in conflict with a policy of attempting to reduce the harm caused by alcohol.

She said: "I ask for whose benefit is this? We're told it's for the tourists.

"So I wonder how many tourists have been put off coming to Ireland because there is a day when public houses are not open?

"How many tourists arriving here to discover that the public houses are closed for 24 hours get the first boat or the first plane out of Ireland and how many tourists have actually complained that they can't access a public house on Good Friday?

"Are we saying that the only tourists we want are those who can't last 24 hours without buying a drink in a public house?"

Ms O’Sullivan said Ireland had a very unhealthy relationship with alcohol and the bill was not in keeping with the Government's policy of reducing alcohol intake among the population.

She said: "With this bill what message are we sending out?

"I actually think we could do with a few Good Friday's throughout the year."

Independent TD Mattie McGrath also said he would be opposing the change, claiming publicans had told him that Good Friday was a day when they performed renovations in their premises or took a day's rest.

"Good Friday is the only day when publicans can take a breather," he said. "The tourists won't run away because they can't get a drink on Good Friday."