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absolute disgrace Anger as Taoiseach and Tánaiste snub invite to discuss live events industry

Events group calls for Micheál Martin to resign


A socially distanced audience watches musician Lisa Hannigan perform outside on Mount Street in Dublin

A socially distanced audience watches musician Lisa Hannigan perform outside on Mount Street in Dublin

A socially distanced audience watches musician Lisa Hannigan perform outside on Mount Street in Dublin

The events industry has hit out at what its members see as preferential treatment of the GAA despite obvious social distancing breaches around high-profile matches.

Disappointment in the sector last night saw calls for Taoiseach Micheál Martin to resign after his attendance at Sunday’s All-Ireland hurling final in Croke Park, where thousands of fans were seen without masks or social distancing.

In a move that is likely to further upset artists and performers, the Herald understands that Mr Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar are to snub an invitation from Culture Minister Catherine Martin to a meeting with industry representatives this week.

It will be the second time in a fortnight that they send officials rather than attend in person to hear from interest groups.

Anger has been growing for some time within the arts community but many are now furious after Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said on Sunday that there was a “big difference” between All-Ireland final day and entertainment events.

However, huge crowds gathered on streets of Dublin before and after the game between Limerick and Cork which was attended by 40,000 supporters.

Gardaí reported anti-social behaviour and a lack of social distancing in a number of areas and asked several publicans to “cease trading in the interest of public safety”.

“Gardaí are carrying out enquiries into alleged breaches of Covid regulations at one of these premises,” a spokesperson said.

When asked about the non-compliance with social distancing and mask-wearing in Croke Park, the GAA said it had no comment but will work with the Department of Sport if “issues” are raised.

The Event Industry Alliance called the Taoiseach’s attendance at the All-Ireland hurling final a “shameful indictment” and argued he must consider his position, which is “clearly untenable”.

Events promoter and spokesperson for the group Justin Green said it was an “absolute disgrace” that the Taoiseach shot down the group’s plans to reopen concerts for vaccinated people with full contact tracing and did not attend the meeting last week.

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“There is definitely discrimination and all we’re looking for is an equal playing field for a sector that has been shut down for the last 18 months,” he said.

Ms Martin will meet music industry stakeholders again tomorrow, having failed last week to give them a date for reopening.

Industry representatives had hoped to make their case to the Taoiseach and Tánaiste who were also not present at a similar meeting last week.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly are also invited to meet music industry representatives, however, the Department of Health would not answer queries on whether or not they were going to attend.

A spokesperson for the Taoiseach said Mr Martin “regularly meets” with various groups and has “no issue” meeting with the sector “when one can be scheduled”.

It is understood an invite to the meeting was to the Taoiseach or an official, however, industry representatives wanted Mr Martin himself to attend.

A spokesperson for the Tánaiste said his officials will attend the meeting and that he is “committed to working with all sectors”.

On Friday Ms Martin will make a presentation to ministers at a meeting of the Cabinet sub committee on Covid-19, having been denied participation last Thursday.

An agreed plan to reopen the live events sector must then be signed off by at a Cabinet meeting on this day next week.

It is understood the minister will push for full capacity for indoor events for people with a Covid Cert to resume “as early as possible”.

The minister also wants indoor arts and drama to reopen in September.

A protest has been scheduled to take place next Tuesday to coincide with the publication of the Government’s final plan for ending restrictions.

Sinn Féin called on the Government to maintain the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) until the end of the year as it is set to be cut by €50 from September 14.

“That will see people in the likes of the arts and entertainment sector, who on the one hand are being told they’re not allowed to work, and on the other hand getting their vital income supports cut,” Sinn Féin social protection spokesperson Claire Kerrane said.

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