The Public Health act 1890 provides for music and singing licences where the local authority has adopted the relevant part of the legislation. This is generally applicable in the main cities.

The general position is that a premises or  place whether or not licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquor may not be used for public singing music or other public entertainment without a licence granted by the District Court.

Where a person holds a public dancing licence, a music and singing licence is not required where  public entertainment consists mainly of public dancing as defined by this Act, but includes, as a subsidiary or incidental part thereof, exhibition dancing by special performers, dancing competitions, vocal or instrumental music (in addition to the music provided for the said public dancing), or any other similar entertainment.

There is provision for a licence for a temporary licence generally up to 14 days and an annual licence.

The application is made to the District Court and notice is given to the Superintendent Garda Siochana and the fire authority. Third parties may object.

The licence must be transferred in the event of change of ownership or tenancy of the premises concerned.

The licence may be granted subject to conditions. Conditions may be applied, for example, in respect of measures to prevent the sale supply or distribution of controlled drugs.

Use of a premises in an area subject to the legislation for such purpose without a licence is an offence. It is subject on summary conviction to a fine up to €1900 and / or to 12 months imprisonment or both or on conviction on indictment €12700 or imprisonment up to 3 years or both.

Breach of the terms of the licence is an offence subject on summary conviction to a fine up to €1900. The license may be revoked on conviction.


Places where public dances are held must be licensed. Public dancing covers dancing in places open to the public. This may be a section of the public including patrons who pay for a meal or come to an event. The place may be building or a part of a building. It may also be a yard garden or the place whether or not enclosed or roofed and whether or not there is a permanent or temporary structure. This extent of the licensing requirement is wide and will cover private functions in public places.

Public dancing licences may be granted for a particular period usually an annual period, for a temporary period less than a month or on a temporary one-off basis for a person who is permitted to use a premises. It may be granted by itself or for premises which is licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquor. Its not necessary to purchase a public dance licence.

An annual certificate for a licence is required from the District Court.

Notice must be given of the application to the local authority, the fire authority and superintendent Garda Siochana for the area. The application must be advertised at least one month beforehand, As with other licensing applications the licence application stamped with court fee must be served and filed the requisite time in advance. Proof of public liability insurance must be produced.

A similar procedure applies in respect of temporary and occasional licences. Notice is required to the fire authority and superintendent of an Garda Siochana. Public liability insurance is required. Premises must be managed in accordance with the code of practice for the management of fire safety in places of assembly.

In addition to the above parties, who are served with copies of the application a member of the public may object to the grant of the licence. The person may be heard upon the objection. Evidence of misconduct on other occasions may be considered.

In considering whether the licence should be graned, regard is had to

  • applicant
  • its financial circumstances,
  • facilities for public dancing in the neighbourhood
  • suitability of the premises
  • planning permission compliance
  • parking
  • accommodation
  • likely age of those attending
  • ease of supervision
  • arrangements to ensure that persons are not in control possession of controlled drugs.

Licences may not be granted to persons who have been convicted of drug trafficking offence.

Conditions may be applied to the licence including limitation of times and other measures to ensure compliance with the above principles.

There is an appeal from the grant or the refusal of licence to the Circuit Court. The appeal may be taken by the applicant or any person who has hit appeared in opposition to the application to the licence. It may be taken in respect of the grant refusal or imposition of conditions.

The licence authorises the person licensed to operate the premises concerned in accordance with the terms of the licence. It is possible to apply to vary conditions during the currency of the licence for particular occasions.

Use of unlicensed premises or place for public dancing is an offence. It is subject on summary conviction to a fine up to to €1,900 and or 12 months imprisonment and on conviction on indictment up to €12,700 or imprisonment up to 2 years. Contravention of the licence terms and conditions is an offence subject on summary conviction of a fine up to €1900. The license may be revoked.

Certain notices are required to be displayed at the premises. Members of an Garda Siochana have rights to enter the premises and can make enquiries. If is an offence to obstruct.

The District Court may an application make a closure order in relation to licensed dance premises by reason of disorder of persons on the premises or noise emanating from it.

Legislation introduced in 1997 sought to place tighter controls on the use of controlled drugs on dance premises. The Gardai were given enhanced powers of investigation and penalties were raised significantly. An additional special power of closure was provided.. There is provision for revocation of the license and associated music and singing licence on conviction for drugs offences. This may carry disqualification from ever holding such a licence. A license may be revoked for permitting premises to be used for the sale of controlled drugs.

The 1997 legislation strengthened provisions in respect of unlicensed dances. This means a gathering of persons open to the public for which a public dancing licence is not in force where the Superintendent Garda Siochana reasonably believes that the primary purpose is to enable persons attending a dance and will be an occasion for the sale supply and distribution of controlled drugs.

There are powers by which the Superintendent Garda Siochana  may give directions against persons preparing for the holding for the holding of an unlicensed dance, persons present at such dance and persons using sound equipment. They may be requested to leave and remove any such equipment. Persons who knowingly fail to comply with a direction, are guilty of an offence subject on summary conviction to a fine up to €1900 and/or  imprisonment of three months.

Members of Garda Siochana may stop persons proceeding to an unlicensed event and direct them not to proceed in that direction. The power may be exercised within 2 miles of the place concerned. Breach of such direction is subject on summary conviction to the same penalties as above.

There are extensive powers for members of the Garda Siochana to enter and sees unlicensed premises the purpose of prevention or detection of drug trafficking offences of giving such directions as above. Obstruction or prevention of a member of an Garda Siochana in the course of duty is an offence. Equipment may be directed to be removed.

There is power for the court on conviction to forfeit sound equipment. Other persons with an interest in the equipment may apply to the District Court in relation to the disposal of the property.


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