MEP Maria Walsh

MEP wants to see non-drinkers catered for in post-pandemic nightlife

LIFELONG pioneer Maria Walsh has spoken to Newstalk’s Kieran Cuddihy about Ireland’s nightlife and how it can be improved post-pandemic, without it being centred around alcohol.

As part of a new series on Newstalk, Reimagining Ireland, MEP Walsh, a CULT (Culture & Education Committee in the European Parliament) committee member, would like to see non-drinkers catered for in cities and also in rural Ireland.

She explained: “We have so much heritage, culture and food opportunities in Ireland and we should blend them. Drinking alcohol is a default culture rather than an optional culture.

“I love to go out but the culture changes at a certain hour. The atmosphere and energy changes. If there were options other than sit in a bar and drink, I’d be more involved.

“When I was living in Philadelphia, museums, culture hubs and sporting arenas were opened on the first Tuesdays or Fridays of each month. You get a great mix of culture and conversation and they still serve alcohol but it’s different to sitting in a bar.

“I’ve travelled to Australia and Seattle and they have night markets offering different drink options rather than the usual mocktails or soda water.”

She continued: “We have a rich culture here in Ireland when it comes to music and food and I’d love to see different options available here. We also need to look at the different cultures in Ireland.

“Not everybody drinks alcohol so we need more options for everyone to enjoy a night out as alcohol should be a choice, not a compromise.

“We need to reimagine our cities but also our regions, small towns and villages too. With more people working at home and having more time in the evenings, it gives them time to go out.

“We need reimagine our rural pubs and look at options locally for people to socialise that doesn’t solely revolve around alcohol.”