Full-time buskers urge Dublin City Council to reconsider Christmas 'blanket ban'

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Full-Time Buskers Urge Dublin City Council To Reconsider Christmas 'Blanket Ban' Full-Time Buskers Urge Dublin City Council To Reconsider Christmas 'Blanket Ban'
Street performers often attract crowds of onlookers. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images.
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By Digital Desk Staff

A decision by Dublin City Council to ban buskers from city streets this December in light of the Covid-19 pandemic has been met with anger, with performers saying they should be given the opportunity to entertain people.

Yesterday, the Irish Times reported that in a letter to street performers dated November 27th, the council said the temporary suspension of street performer permits could not be lifted due to public health reasons.

Street performers often attract crowds of onlookers, however, under current Level 3 restrictions, no more than six people from a maximum of two households can meet outside while social distancing.

The council letter to performers said “stay safe and stay well and we hope to welcome you back to the streets of Dublin in the not too distant future.”

However, full-time busker, Mick McLoughlin has said performers on Dublin streets are a hallmark of the festive period, and the 'blanket ban' approach to buskers was disappointing.

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Walking up Grafton Street with no buskers – it’s not going to be Christmas.

“Walking up Grafton Street with no buskers – it’s not going to be Christmas” Mr McLoughlin told Newstalk Breakfast.

Mr McLoughlin said he understood the concern to public health, but felt performers could be accommodated on wider streets, such as Henry Street.

Mr McLoughling expressed his concern for full-time buskers like himself, saying he no longer has a job due to the Council's decision, adding: "There is a way for us to be able to do what we do - entertain people," urging the Council to find an alternative solution.

Responding to the Council's letter to performers, Green Party Councillor Donna Cooney tabled an emergency motion at the monthly council meeting on Monday night, which was taken without debate.

The councillor called on the local authority to come up with a “creative solution” to allow performers to reach an audience at Christmas.

A lot of bands that are pretty successful now started on the streets.

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“Whether it be getting some professional recording done, making some videos. There are speakers up on Grafton Street that are going to play music so they might not have a street performance, but at least they have an audience and get their music out there,” she said.

“We could maybe do things on social media, mainstream media. Bono and the likes of them usually get out and play on Christmas eve so maybe this is a time that our established performing artists and bands can help out those that are only starting off and still making their living by playing on the streets.”

Cllr Cooney said she believed street performers have been “overlooked” in relation to supporting the arts sector during the pandemic.

“They’re probably most in need. It’s very difficult to prove your income when you’re a street performer. For some people it’s their income and for others it’s a path for them... A lot of bands that are pretty successful now started on the streets,” she said.

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