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Ticket touting law to be approved by Cabinet as all eyes look towards summer

The law will ban the above price resale of tickets for live events, Christina Finn reports.

Crowds enjoy the Electric Picnic festival in 2014.
Crowds enjoy the Electric Picnic festival in 2014.
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

A LAW THAT will ban ticket touting and reselling tickets for large events is set to be approved by Cabinet today.

The legislation aims to deal with the problem of so-called ticket-touting for major events, such as sports matches and concerts at venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or more. 

It also proposes to ban the above price resale of tickets for live events at such venues and proposes penalties of a fine of up to €100,000 or up to two years imprisonment for anyone caught attempting to sell on tickets at an inflated price.

The Sale of Tickets (Cultural, Entertainment, Recreational and Sporting Events) Bill, once approved, will be published later this week.

Speaking previously about the legislation, Tánaiste and Enterprise minister Leo Varadkar said:

“Ticket touts rip us all off, driving up ticket prices and making it harder to get a ticket in the first place. This new law will ban the resale of tickets to large events and venues at a cost over face value, making sure everyone gets a fair price.”

Once enacted, operators of larger venues will be able to apply to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment for designation of that venue.

When designated, reselling of tickets above the original sales price for that venue will be prohibited.

The legislation also provides that event organisers or venue operators may apply for the designation of events which takes place on an annual or other periodic basis in the same venue.

How will it work?

When a ticket is sold for an event which has been designated or which is to take place in a designated venue then the original buyer must be given clear information – both on the ticket itself, and also through advertisements – that tickets cannot be resold above the face value.

While the tickets can be resold for face value of lower, resellers of these tickets must also provide information on the original sale price of the ticket and the location of the seat or standing area to which the ticket entitles the holder to gain admission.

The legislation has been a long time in the making, with the idea for the proposed law first coming from former Fine Gael TD Noel Rock and Fianna Fáil TD (now minister) Stephen Donnelly during the last Dáil. 

Last year, Live Nation, the global live music entertainment company and owner of Ticketmaster, raised concerns about the timing of the bill. 

It noted the impact of the pandemic on the sector and stated that “the current priority must be to get the sector working again”. 

Live entertainment

While it may seem some way off before gigs and live events can again take place with an audience, yesterday there were some hopeful comments from Higher Education Minister Simon Harris on how the easing of restrictions in May might go further than was originally indicated – particularly for outdoor activities. 

A new new advisory group on reopening the live entertainment sector, meanwhile, made up of promoters and entertainment industry experts, is to draft a report that will advise NPHET and the government on what the requirements should be to safely manage events as lockdown restrictions are eased.

Antigen testing is set to play a key role, as it has in other countries, with Leinster Rugby already having submitted plans to government to use rapid antigen testing to allow the return of spectators to matches at the RDS Arena.

As regards the rest of the Covid reopening plan – details of what May, June and July will look like should be provided by Cabinet next week, according to Harris. 

He said the full opening of construction, retail, and personal services like barbers and hairdressers are likely to take place in May.

It is believed that all retail will open by the second week in May, while intercounty travel is to be allowed around the June bank holiday.

Outdoor activities

Harris said it may be possible to “go further” with some outdoor activities if virus numbers stay they as they are.

Meanwhile the Licensed Vintners Association are calling for all pubs – traditional and gastro – as well as other hospitality venues to be allowed to provide an outdoor service from 24 May.

The group states that outdoor activity is widely acknowledged as being relatively safe, adding that the end of May represents a reasonable time-frame for this activity to recommence. 

The LVA points out that indoor service for all hospitality businesses in Northern Ireland commences on 24 May, the same day that the LVA proposes outdoor service to resume in the Republic.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin acknowledged earlier in the year that the government will have to reflect on what to do if restrictions in Northern Ireland are eased at a much faster pace than the Republic. 

He told TheJournal in February that there the time would come when the two jurisdictions would “diverge”.

“We’ll have to examine that, we’ll have to reflect on how we deal with that,” he said at the time.

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Vaccine rollout update

While today’s Cabinet meeting will is not set to sign off on the summer’s easing of restrictions, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly will be giving ministers an update on the vaccine rollout. 

The Government confirmed on Saturday that it is sticking with the current age-based approach to the rollout, but considerations are still being made in whether the gap between two vaccines being administered should be extended. 

While it had been speculated upon that a memo might be going to Cabinet today on the matter, it is understood that the government will make a decision on extending the gap between jabs by the end of the week rather than today.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said yesterday that the Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn and his team are examining it at the moment, with advice to government expected later in the week.

Proposed legislation is also to be brought to Cabinet by Education Minister Norma Foley that will ensure that Leaving Cert students will not get their results if parents or others lobby teachers in a bid to influence the marks they award for the accredited-grades process.

This year’s Leaving Cert will see students have the choice of whether to sit an exam in each subject or receive a calculated grade, to be known this year as SEC-Accredited Grades.

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