Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Arts and Culture, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, has highlighted the plight of couples denied their ‘first dance’ and musicians struggling to survive financially due to Fáilte Ireland guidance on wedding receptions that ban both live music and dancing despite most restrictions being eased as we went from Level 5 to Level 3 on the Living with COVID Plan.
Teachta Ó Snodaigh and Sinn Féin colleagues from across the country wrote to the Chief Executive of Fáilte Ireland asking why live music was permitted under the last Level 3 restrictions in autumn, but is now not allowed, particularly given that the legislation clearly allows for persons “attending in a professional capacity… in fulfilment of a contract for services” to attend wedding receptions in addition to the couple and 25 guests.
Teachta Ó Snodaigh said: “Many contracts were entered into only for hopes to be dashed last minute at great cost.
“If something changed in the public health advice between the last Level 3 and this Level 3, then that advice should be published.
“Couples looking forward to their big day have had to sacrifice a great deal of what makes their wedding day special in order to get married during this period. They can’t have family members and friends they love join them in celebrations, they’ve had to cut guest lists dramatically, and they’ve also gone to great expense to be able to hold their wedding in compliance with restrictions.
“Wedding bands also wish to fulfil the terms of their contracts, and in many cases are struggling financially due to the impact of COVID-19 on their work. They cannot afford to lose the income from the few events at which they can play, nor can they afford to pay back fees paid in advance given that they will have in many instances already paid costs for preparation, production, staging, and travel to attend.
“It’s not good enough for Fáilte Ireland to say they ‘don’t make the rules’ and blame government advice for pubs and restaurants, as wedding receptions can take place in large hotel venues. Fáilte Ireland made the decision to extend the ban to weddings, and we are asking them to reconsider this decision or to at least provide a clear explanation.
“We are also calling on the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin to provide adequate supports for affected musicians and artists to ensure their families do not go hungry this Christmas because of restrictions.
“These are artists for whom weddings are their whole business, who expected to be back to work by now but cannot return because of these restrictions, and who won’t be able to avail of the Live Entertainment and Music Industry Support Packages.
“This year has been tough enough on everybody, and nobody deserves more hardship as we look with hope to 2021.
“Happy couples who have invested substantially in being able to have their first dance and wedding bands struggling to make ends meet deserve clarity and consideration when guidelines are being updated, and we ask the Government and Fáilte Ireland to do right by them.”