Sinn Féin spokesperson on Gaeilge, Gaeltacht, Arts and Culture, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, has today responded to the latest proposed reintroduction of curfew restrictions on live events and nightlife by issuing a plea to Minister Catherine Martin to engage with the sector and provide clarity, as well as much-needed financial supports.
Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:
“Yet again, last minute changes are being announced for the nightlife sector with absolutely no engagement with those directly affected – the workers, the businesses, the performers and DJs, the pubs, clubs and venues.
“These are people who have been through the mill since the pandemic began. Not only have they had to deal with almost two years without work, but they have also been subject to last-minute changes to guidelines and restrictions, like the no-warning introduction of ticketing only a few weeks ago
“They should not be left finding out about midnight curfews and restrictions second-hand over Twitter.
“On top of this, basic supports like the PUP were taken away and live performance funding was slashed in half, on the promise that they would be reopening back to normal and no longer require assistance.
“This is clearly not the case, and while the public health situation requires that we heed the expert advice, our musicians and hospitality workers cannot be told not to work yet again without any supports to help them through the winter.
“Even before this latest re-announcement of restrictions, venues were struggling to get crowds back to the capacity permitted, and gigs and events for November and December were already being cancelled in their droves.
“Performance and nightlife are a fundamental part of our culture, and must be protected.
“It is a disgrace that Minister Catherine Martin has made no effort to establish a replacement scheme for arts and events workers being forced off PUP onto jobseekers’ allowance.
“Despite all the test events that were lauded over the summer, there seems to be no clear advice or subsidy to ensure antigen testing can be used in a widespread fashion for those attending pubs and clubs.
“It is high time Minister Martin sat down with Ministers Heather Humphreys, Stephen Donnelly, and Leo Varadkar to work out a rescue plan for the sector.
“I am also calling on the Minister to finally respond to myself and my colleagues from across the Dáil and Seanad on the Music and Entertainment Cross-Party Committee to work out a coordinated response. Safeguarding our cultural workers and talent should come before petty politics.
“If she continues to refuse to meet with me, as she has done for over a year now, or to consider Sinn Féin’s published and costed proposals for an Arts & Culture Rescue Package, then at least she should listen to the real concerns of representative groups.
“The Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland have been raising warning signs about the potential imminent collapse of the sector for weeks, and the devastating impact government policy is having on our creative talent and crew.”