Ciara Power

PhD Candidate , Queen's University Belfast and Free The Night , Transforming Nightlife in Northern Ireland

Belfast, Northern Ireland


Ciara Power is a PhD Candidate in Anthropology and Ethnomusicology at Queen's University Belfast. Her PhD is based on a comparative study exploring how people, policy and place impact electronic music in Belfast and Dublin. The project is funded by Northern Bridge Consortium, a Doctoral Training Partnership within the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK. Ciara is also lead researcher with Free The Night, a campaign lobbying and advocating for a progressive, safe and culturally rich nightlife community in Northern Ireland.

Creating a Nightlife For Everyone: Holistic Approaches to Licensing Regulation in Northern Ireland

For small countries like Northern Ireland, not only does COVID-19 pose long-term challenges to the night-time community, but strict licensing laws also prevent this thriving nation from reaching its full potential. The government has been reviewing licensing laws since 1996, and during this time, there has been a stark reduction in opening hours and immense restrictions for nightlife establishments. In this paper, I present data from the largest research project conducted by Northern Ireland nightlife campaign, Free The Night. The overall study comprises of thirteen evidence-based recommendations to help transform nightlife in Northern Ireland. I use this opportunity to discuss the sixth recommendation of the briefing document which asks that policymakers practice a holistic approach to nightlife regulation. First, I unpack theoretical understandings of the concept of holism and its relationship to nightlife regulation. Then, I present findings from Free The Night's nightlife survey which demonstrate the need for progressive legislative changes to licensing laws. Finally, I draw on a best-practice case study on nightlife policy transformation in Republic of Ireland.