Singer Christy Moore has said Minister for Arts Catherine Martin should "risk the [party] whip" in standing up for the rights of live performers.
Moore, one of the country’s most popular and enduring performers, said Ms Martin who told the music industry that she supported its desire to reopen, should “continue with her efforts and publicise the inertia of her colleagues”.
A meeting with the music industry scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed until next Monday following a meeting between the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister Martin on Tuesday.
Last week Ms Martin revealed that she tried to get a commitment for an opening date for live entertainment, but was unable to do so.
When asked to comment on why 40,000 fans could attend All-Ireland finals and just 500 were permitted at outdoor music events, Mr Moore said: “The power of the GAA and the lobbyists for vintners and restaurateurs would appear to sway those public representatives whose primary purpose is to get re-elected.
“The Government response would appear to be driven more by the power of various lobbies than by actual science. That said, it is an extremely difficult time for everybody and some politicians are doing their very best while others behave with their usual self-interest and cynicism.”
He suggested the Government should “apply science and equality to their decision-making and stop responding to pressure from powerful interest and lobbyists”.
Moore said the pandemic had turned his life “upside down and inside out”. While some performers were privileged and able to ride out the storm “many more, like hundreds of thousands of citizens, are without work and wages”.
However, he said the pandemic is not the Great Famine nor the Civil War and previous generations had been through worse.
“Our grandparents lived full, contented lives without restaurants, foreign holidays and many of the privileges that modern life dictates as being essential,” he said.
“Let us focus on the sick, the homeless, the poor. Let us assist those who care for the needy.”
The Music and Entertainment Industry in Ireland (MEAI) lobby group made a submission in anticipation of Wednesday’s scheduled meeting with the Minister warning about the implications of cuts to the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) from September 7th.
It said a lot of musicians and performers would be forced on to the standard jobseeker’s allowance of €203 per week from that date.
MEAI spokesman Jackie Conboy said he had been told that the meeting with Ms Martin was postponed to allow for the Covid-19 Cabinet sub-committee to consider the advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).
That sub-committee is due to meet on Friday and will consider Nphet’s recommendations for the reopening of all remaining areas of the economy.
“This is potentially very good news for us,” Mr Conboy said. “Our sector could be up and running very rapidly here. What we want to know about is when indoors is going to open again.”
Meanwhile, the number of people receiving the PUP has fallen below the 150,000 mark for the first time.
Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said on Tuesday that 149,436 people would receive the payment this week.This reflected “the steady progress we are making in rolling out the vaccination programme and the continued re-opening of the economy”, she said.