'No progress' on reopening date for events sector following Government meeting

ireland
'No Progress' On Reopening Date For Events Sector Following Government Meeting 'No Progress' On Reopening Date For Events Sector Following Government Meeting
Events sector representatives have said they are 'deeply disappointed' following a meeting with Arts Minister Catherine Martin. Photo: PA Images.
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Events sector representatives have said they are "deeply disappointed" following a meeting with Arts Minister Catherine Martin to discuss the possible return of concerts and festivals.

The Event Industry Alliance (EIA) said no progress had been made towards a reopening date for the sector to host events for those who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

It also criticised the fact that the meeting was not attended by the Taoiseach or Minister for Health, and said there was a clear need for cross-department collaboration on the issue in government.

“In addition, we are very concerned that after 17 months of closure each group had just a two to three minute opportunity to make a contribution towards the proposed reopening roadmap. This does not amount to constructive engagement but we do hope that this is a start,” the EIA said.

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Minister Catherine Martin told the meeting of industry stakeholders this afternoon that she had attempted to secure a general reopening date for the sector.

The Irish Times reports that the Minister said she had tried to get the Government’s Cabinet Covid committee to agree to dates for reopening at a meeting on August 6th, but the Ministers present did not do so.

Sources said that Ms Martin told the meeting that she wrote to the three Coalition party leaders two weeks ago expressing her “deep concern for the industry” and unhappiness with the pace of reopening. It is understood she also noted the disparity between sport and music events in reopening.

Ms Martin told the meeting that despite “countless appeals on behalf of the sector” she could not provide them with a reopening date, but guaranteed them they were pushing an “open door” with her.

The EIA is proposing a reopening date of September 1st for those who are fully vaccinated for both indoor and outdoor events.

Earlier, industry representatives said pandemic supports are to be removed from live event workers while there is no plan in place to reopen their sector.

'I'm just angry'

Prior to the meeting, the director of Festival Republic Melvin Benn said he did not expect much to come from the discussion.

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“There’s a complete lack of leadership I’m afraid. I’m just angry,” he said.

“The level of vaccination in Ireland is incredibly high.”

“I tried to think of a parallel and the only parallel that I can think of is feeling like Shay Given did in 2009 when Thierry Henry handballed that ball and everybody knew it was wrong and yet the ref ignored it.”

“Everyone knows this is wrong,” he said.

Republic of Ireland’s Shay Given (left) appeals for handball after France’s Thierry Henry set up Williams Gallas’ winning goal (Martin Rickett/PA)

He accused the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) of creating a “culture of fear” and said the country lacked political leadership.

Earlier this month, the organisers of Electric Picnic were refused a licence to hold this year’s festival.

The music festival had been due to take place from September 24th to 26th at Stradbally Hall Estate.

However, Laois County Council refused to issue a licence for the event, saying the decision was made following the “most up-to-date” health advice from the HSE.

Mr Benn said he could not understand why festivals were taking place in UK and the US, but not Ireland.

Melvin Benn (Brian Lawless/PA)

In recent weeks, a number of outdoor concerts have taken place in Northern Ireland.

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He said that the Government in Ireland has failed to heed the lessons from elsewhere in the world.

“It’s the same virus.

“It isn’t a different virus in Ireland than it is in the UK.”

“As public health advisers say, they’re there to advise, not to take decisions.”

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