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Musicians call for clear plan to reopen live entertainment industry

Up to 100 demonstrators took part in a protest in Dublin calling for a commitment from the government to reopen the sector.

Musician and singer Jenny O’Donovan joins a protest outside the Convention Centre in Dublin, calling for a loosening of coronavirus restrictions.
Musician and singer Jenny O’Donovan joins a protest outside the Convention Centre in Dublin, calling for a loosening of coronavirus restrictions.
Image: Niall Carson/PA

MUSICIANS AND ARTISTS have called for the government to publish a plan to reopen the live entertainment industry in Ireland.

Up to 100 demonstrators took part in a protest outside the Dáil, which is sitting in the Convention Centre in Dublin, to demand a commitment from the government to reopen the sector.

Industry professionals say they have been out of a job for more than a year and want clarity on a plan that will see the return of live music.

Live music has been banned from all venues, despite the reopening of the outdoor hospitality sector and changes in the number of guests allowed to attend weddings.

Events singer Jenny O’Donovan said guidance to allow live music should be published.

O’Donovan, who sings at wedding ceremonies, drinks receptions and funerals, has had to get a job as a carer.

“Singing was my full-time gig and I wasn’t getting the full PUP (Pandemic Unemployment Payment) payment so I had to get a carer job, which I am very grateful for but it’s not something I want to wake up every day and want to do,” she said.

“I really want to get back to singing, it’s good for the soul.”

O’Donovan said: “It breaks my heart. Last year, when there was no vaccinations, there was Level 3 and we were allowed to play in the corner away from everyone. Why can’t we make it safe for clients and couples now?

“No music is no good for everyone, it brings up your mood.”

coronavirus-wed-jun-23-2021 Musicians protesting outside the Convention Centre in Dublin today. Source: PA

Musician John Flannagan, who performs pop, country and traditional music in bars and at weddings, said: “We’ve been silenced from playing music.

“The last gig we had was on March 12 last year. There has been no live music and there is no direction when we can go back to work.

“Failte Ireland issued guidelines a few weeks ago banning live music and any sort of entertainment.

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“Live music doesn’t necessarily have to be loud music, we just want to go back to work.”

The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media has been contacted for comment.

A statement released last month from Minister Catherine Martin on the guidelines said every restriction is guided by health advice.

The minister said she was “very aware of how badly the creative and performance sectors have been hit by the pandemic and subsequent restrictions”.

“Every restriction is guided by health advice in order to protect people but also to eliminate the spread of Covid-19 among the greater population,” the statement said. 

The statement added that the Fáilte Ireland guidelines are “in line with previous guidance communicated” and follow consultation with public health bodies such as the HSE and NPHET.  

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