The Cabinet has agreed the outline of legislation that would allow pubs open from 10.30am to 12.30am, seven days a week, while nightclubs would not have to close until 6am.

The changes are expected to be enacted next year if the legislation is passed by the Oireachtas.

The Government has also agreed to provide additional supports to help businesses and communities adjust to licensing law changes.

Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin said this decision will contribute to a better night-time economy.

Nine new pilot cities and towns will now get advisers to help develop a sustainable night-time economy in their areas.

These include Dublin city, Cork city, Limerick city, Galway city, Kilkenny, Drogheda, Sligo, Buncrana and Longford town.

There is also a new capital fund of up to €2m in sound-proofing grants for night-time venues.

Opening hours for late bars will remain at 2.30am and a new late bar permit will be required.

Late bar and nightclubs will have to apply to the courts for permits and they will need CCTV on the premises, along with fully accredited security staff.

It is understood that Minister for Justice Helen McEntee told colleagues that Ireland will maintain a restrictive sale of alcohol licensing system overall.

Licences can only be granted by the courts, with objections allowed from fire services, local authorities, the Health Service Executive, local communities and gardaí.

Minister Helen McEntee has said that this new legislation is needed because the existing laws are outdated and antiquated.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Ms McEntee said: "They are not fit for what I want, and I think what most people want, and that is a modern, vibrant growing cultural night time economy."

She said that the Government has engaged with all stakeholders, including the HSE, Department of Health and those advocating for public health.

"They have raised concerns and we have taken all of those on board," she said.

She said that 20 years ago there were 500 nightclubs, but there are 90 now. This reduction in venues has impacted the ability to attract big music acts.

"We're not getting the larger acts, we're not getting the DJs, because we don't have the environment. We don't have the buildings.

"We don't have the attraction that other European cities and towns have, so we want to try and bring back and give people options and give people opportunity."

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Nightclub owner Ian Redmond said the Nightclub Bar Association began lobbying for changes to opening hours two years ago.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said: "We are now two years down the line and we're looking for this legislation bill to be passed and legislation to be brought in as soon as possible.

"The cost of running our businesses is crippling and the fact that we can open till later in the morning, till 6am, it's fantastic. So, we're really excited about it."

The CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland said she has serious concerns about the proposed extension of licensing hours.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne, Sheila Gilheany said that research shows increasing opening hours causes an increase in the harms from alcohol, including violence in different forms, public disorder and increased hospital admissions.

There is a complete mismatch between the Government's Public Health Alcohol Act, which seeks to reduce the level of alcohol use, and this call from the Department of Justice to increase licensing hours, she said.

Speaking on the same programme, DJ and spokesperson for the Give Us the Night Campaign Sunil Sharpe said the proposed changes are welcome, but operating costs are a big issue for bars and nightclubs.

He said that after the reforms, he thinks the costs of licences, which are only available in the open markets, will continue to spiral and go upwards "and that's something that we wanted to be addressed here that the financial entry into the market isn't prohibitive for new operators and new blood coming into the industry too".