Electric Picnic organisers refused licence to hold this year’s festival

Laois County Council rejects application based on ‘most up-to-date public health advice’

Electric Picnic in 2018. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Electric Picnic in 2018. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

Laois County Council has refused to grant Electric Picnic organisers a licence to hold this year’s festival.

In a statement on Wednesday, the council said the decision was made “following the most up-to-date public health advice made available to the council from the Health Service Executive”.

“Furthermore, it is noted that under current Government measures for the management of Covid-19 events of this nature are restricted to an attendance of 500 people only.”

The council’s chairman Cllr Conor Bergin said the HSE advice was “unambiguous”.

“Laois County Council have decided to refuse the licence application for electric picnic on the basis of public health advice from HSE that was unambiguous,” he said.

“This was a very difficult decision for council to make and I’m sure it will be disappointing to thousands of music fans and the live music industry. However, in the current climate it’s the lack of certainty over Covid. We’d all love to see it go ahead but with no certainty, it’s very hard.”

The move comes days after the organiser of the event, which is Ireland’s largest music festival, expressed confidence that it would get the go-ahead this year.

Speaking earlier this week, managing director of Festival Republic Melvin Benn said he based his optimism on the fact no one in Government had told him the event in Stradbally, Co Laois, would not be allowed.

Covid-19 rules limit numbers at the majority of organised outdoor events to 500 at venues with capacity in excess of 5,000.

Test events

While several test events have been staged, Ireland’s live music and entertainment sector remains effectively closed down due to coronavirus regulations.

However, the organisers of Electric Picnic had hoped the festival could go ahead at the end of September with 70,000 attendees, with entry conditions including proof of vaccination or of having already recovered from the virus.

Last year’s festival was also cancelled due to the pandemic. Tickets bought back then had remained valid for the rescheduled event and 90 per cent have already been sold.

Mr Benn said he was “100 per cent fully expecting the Electric Picnic to be going ahead on the basis that 100 per cent nobody has told me I won’t be able to . . and we are very confident that it would happen.”

He added: “I’m investing and all of the teams are investing in the effort to try and make sure that the Picnic can happen by presuming that we are going ahead and I’m saying ‘presuming’ that we are going ahead, because let’s be 100 per cent clear here, nobody’s told me I can’t go ahead.”

Last week, the promoters and organisers wrote to the Government outlining proposals for staging the event with various coronavirus safety measures in place.

Last month Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said proof of vaccination or Covid-19 recovery could be used, in conjunction with testing, to help live music resume.

The Government intends to outline a plan at the end of the month that will set out a pathway for reopening the sector.