October 19, 2021
Last minute rules and unfinished guidelines are insulting to performers and venues – Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Gaeilge, Gaeltacht, the Arts and Culture, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, has branded as “ridiculous” the contradictory last-minute rules announced today for the reopening of live entertainment on the 22nd October.

Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:

“Some of today’s announcements, such as a reopening at full capacity, are welcome, while others can only be described as a shambles. Dancing and mingling is ok at nightclubs but not in pubs or at concerts. You can stand, but only at your seat. Masks are required in nightclubs, unless you’re dancing, drinking or eating.

“Yet again, we’re being told that all will be cleared up in the guidelines, which are still being made up as we speak, only three days out from when they’re meant to come into force.

“How on earth can pubs and venues be expected to plan or police the implementation of guidelines from the end of this week that haven’t even been written yet, let alone seen?

“What about the gigs and concerts that have already been planned from 22nd October, including standing-room tickets, that might have to change to adapt to the yet-to-be-published guidelines? What about the people pubs and venues have hired based on government promises about reopening?

“It was only a few months ago that the Tánaiste went out of his way to say guidelines don’t have any binding effect, so what these guidelines will actually mean remains unclear.

“It is simply not good enough for the Taoiseach and Tánaiste to be saying ‘there will be anomalies’ as if contradictory and illogical advice should simply be accepted.

“There is no justification for this appalling lack of planning, given the devastation that’s been wreaked in our cultural and events industries through this pandemic. We’ve been strung along for a year now with talk of ‘pilot trials’ and ‘test events’ only to discover that they haven’t been of any use in working out how to reopen safely.

“Next week, a large cohort of musicians and performers will receive their final PUP payment despite the lack of clarity and guidelines clearly impacting their ability to return to work. All they are getting from government is cuts and confusion, and insulting remarks from Minister Heather Humphreys to seek work elsewhere if they can’t find work. Many are leaving the industry completely.

“I’ve been asking for a meeting with Minister Catherine Martin to discuss the crisis facing artists for over a year and how to ensure the industry survives. Opposition TDs need to know what work has gone into drafting guidelines, and see the research upon which they are based. My colleagues have been extended that courtesy by other Cabinet ministers, but the Arts remain ignored and neglected by this government.”

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