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Outdoor events Tánaiste Leo Varadkar to argue that Electric Picnic should be allowed to go ahead

He is likely to intervene in the growing row over the Laois music festival despite the Government officially saying it is a matter for the organiser, MCD, and Laois County Council

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Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is to push his Government colleagues to allow Electric Picnic and other outdoor events to go ahead.

He is likely to intervene in the growing row over the Laois music festival despite the Government officially saying it is a matter for the organiser, MCD, and Laois County Council.

The local authority yesterday said there was "no provision in law" to revisit its decision to refuse a licence for the event.

The Fine Gael leader favours a change to the statutory instrument that currently prohibits outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people except for specific events, including last Sunday's All-Ireland hurling final which had 40,000 attendees.

This could potentially allow other large outdoor events to go ahead next month and in October, but it is unclear whether attendance would be limited to people who are vaccinated.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said on Tuesday he would have no concerns about large-scale events such as Electric Picnic going ahead for vaccinated people, but there is currently no provision in law to allow this.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said yesterday there was "a lot of merit" to what Dr Holohan had said in relation to Electric Picnic.

"I think the questions being raised by the entertainment sector are reasonable. They see crowds in Croke Park and ask the questions. There has been a mechanism in place for pilot events, that's what sports events have been under," Mr Donnelly told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.

The issue is likely to be dealt with by ministers at the Cabinet Covid Committee meeting tomorrow, when Nphet's latest advice on when the remaining public health restrictions can be eased will be discussed.

Nphet met yesterday to discuss the latest disease trajectory.

A spokesperson for the Taoiseach said a decision to grant the licence for Electric Picnic is up to local authorities.

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Dr Tony Holohan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dr Tony Holohan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dr Tony Holohan (Brian Lawless/PA)

 

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A Government official also said the onus was on MCD to re-apply for a licence through Laois County Council, adding that the matter is now "not for Government".

However, the council said even with a new application, "statutory timelines" meant it was too late for the September 70,000 capacity festival.

"The decision for the licensing of individual events are a matter for the relevant local authority," said the Taoiseach's spokesperson. "The Government will publish an updated roadmap for the reopening of various sectors next Tuesday."

The Department of Arts and Culture and Minister Catherine Martin did not reply to queries about what action she is taking in relation to Electric Picnic.

MCD promoter Denis Desmond told RTÉ he has written to the Government, asking for a decision by today.

Live event representatives slammed Government's inaction. Head of Slane Castle and Earl of Mount Charles Alex Conyngham said there is a lot of anger in the sector.

"The government has been delaying publishing a roadmap but outdoor and indoor events have been happening for vaccinated people in other countries and we are still not doing it," he said.

"It just feels discriminatory at this stage."

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