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Gig deal Electric Picnic promoters in direct appeal to Government to let festival go ahead

"We were the first to close and now left last to reopen"

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Hozier fans at Electric Picnic in 2019

Hozier fans at Electric Picnic in 2019

Hozier fans at Electric Picnic in 2019

Promoters of the Electric Picnic have directly appealed to the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, and Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly to allow the music festival to go ahead. 

Festival Republic and MCD have set in a letter to the Government outlining how they propose to stage the event at Cosby Hall in Stradbally with Covid-19 safety protocols in place.

In the letter that is also addressed to other ministers, including the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, they argue that the Picnic should go ahead from September 24-26 with a full 70,000 capacity as there will be beefed up Covid protection measures in place.

The letter that is signed by Justin Green of Wide Awake Communications says that the proposed measures “would resemble the regulations applicable to indoor hospitality, the rules governing international travel and the protocols implemented at live events currently underway throughout Europe, within the UK and the USA.”

They would include but not be limited to no restrictions for those fully vaccinated 14 days before the festival; testing anyone who has had single vaccination and no entry to the unvaccinated.

Other proposals require mandatory registration for Department of Health contact tracing.

The letter goes on to state that “As the only sector fully closed by mandate for over 500 days, we were the first to close and now left last to reopen - currently without any sector plan," she said.

They also refer to a statement from Minister Catherine Martin who warned that the ‘live music sector in danger of collapse’ adding: "We now need your urgent help to ensure this does not happen."

In June we revealed how locals in Stradbally expressed concern about the event going ahead.

Experts fear most of the 70,000 crowd expected at the event would be in their 20s and late teens and highly unlikely to be vaccinated by then.

A number of other open air music festivals planned for later this year have already been cancelled due to Covid, including Longitude in Dublin and Body and Soul in Westmeath.

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The Forbidden Fruit festival in Dublin's Kilmainham and the Rose of Tralee were also called off.

Electric Picnic organisers have still to announce what acts are due, but looking at similar events planned in the UK at the same time, among those mooted are Gerry Cinnamon, James, Stereolab, Example, Sean Paul, Future and Skepta.

But a councillor in Stradbally insists locals do not want Electric Picnic to go ahead this year.

"Older people in the area are terrified at the very mention of it," Fianna Fáil Cllr Paschal McEvoy told the Sunday World.

"We would rather give it a miss this year as it's better to be safe than sorry," he said.

However, he admitted that it would be a tough decision to cancel this year's festival.

"A lot of money is raised for local charities, ­particularly St Vincent de Paul, from the event," he revealed.

"There are also a lot of local people at it and it brings a lot of money into the town."

But he wants the festival cancelled for a second year in succession.

"We need another year to, hopefully, have brought this Covid to a place where we can be comfortable and safe," he stressed.

"This crowd of 70,000 would be ­coming from all corners of the country and could potentially be bringing the virus to our town, and not only that, they could be catching it from others at the event and bringing it back to their own hometowns", he added.

Some locals who took to Facebook were mostly in favour of cancelling this year's festival.

"Not a hope this should go ahead, makes no sense at all," Lisa Buggy fumed.

"I hope the town comes together and makes sure it doesn't happen this year."

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