The Galway City Joint Policing Committee has called for greater clarity from the Government and the introduction of national emergency legislation to address the issue of on-street drinking.

Councillor Niall McNeilis, chairperson of the JPC, said the current by-laws and licensing laws are being breached unintentionally by licensed premises and the matter cannot be dealt with in a "discretionary" manner.

"It's always been about outdoor dining but surely they must have thought about the outdoor drinking that is going to occur as well," he said.

"We’ve issued permits and waived fees to introduce outdoor tables and chairs around the city and introduced outdoor drinking areas in places like Woodquay, The Latin Quarter, Galway’s Westend and Salthill. That’s to encourage a safe environment but gardaí are now asked to be discretionary in their policing role."

Councillor McNeilis said gardaí needed to be allowed to do more than act with discretion. He said they needed urgent clarification and laws they can stand over. He said the Joint Policing Committee asked Oireachtas members present at today’s meeting to try to get emergency legislation introduced at national level.

He said no fines have been issued and no tables and chairs have been lifted in Galway, but he added that every premises has been recently visited and the legal situation explained to business owners.

He said ultimately the gardaí want to enforce the law and work with publicans to ensure a safe drinking environment.

The JPC meets around four times a year to provide a forum for discussion of matters that affect policing in Galway.

It comprises members of Galway City Council, senior members of An Garda Síochána, councillors, TDS and Senators.