Electric Picnic organisers say licence refusal is ‘difficult to accept’

Government urged to issue new reopening rules as festival cancelled for second year

Revellers at Electric Picnic in Stradbally, Co Laois in August 2019. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Revellers at Electric Picnic in Stradbally, Co Laois in August 2019. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

The organisers of Electric Picnic, who had hoped to attract 70,000 concertgoers to Stradbally in Co Laois in September, have urged the Government to issue new reopening rules, after it was refused a licence this year.

Responding to Laois County Council’s decision to refuse a licence, the organisers said ticketholders, staff and artists would all have been fully vaccinated and registered for contact tracing in advance.

With a similar population and vaccination figures, Scotland this week decided to let the TRNSMT Festival in Glasgow go ahead in September: “This makes this decision even more difficult to accept,” said organisers.

Ministers should “interrupt” their summer break and quickly issue new reopening guidelines to let entertainment venues reopen gradually from August 16th, with no restrictions from September 1st, they said.

Patience

Thanking fans and the Stradbally community for their patience and ongoing support, the promoters said they would “now review our options and be in contact directly with all ticketholders over the next week”.

Rock star and former Oasis singer Liam Gallagher tweeted: “Gutted to hear Electric Picnic has been cancelled. Was looking forward to seeing my Irish brothers n sisters and my cousin Guinness.”

In Stradbally, opinion was divided. Fianna Fáil councillor and village resident Paschal McEvoy said it was “the right decision”, but he hoped to have “the Electric Picnic here in 2022”. It had not been “an easy decision” for the council.

However, Fine Gael councillor PJ Kelly said that the loss of Electric Picnic was another blow to local businesses, especially on the back of the cancellation of the four-day ploughing championships in nearby Ratheniska.

Challenge

Noting speculation that Electric Picnic might challenge the council’s refusal, Mr Kelly said he was unsure how they would do so. “Most people I spoke to were annoyed that the Picnic organisers didn’t cancel [it] themselves,” he added.

Fine Gael Laois/Offaly TD Charlie Flanagan welcomed the refusal in the light of serious public health concerns, adding that the “lack of consultation by organisers” had annoyed Stradbally residents.

Local resident Finbarr Clancy, of Brockley Park, Stradbally, agreed that it was “too soon” for the festival to take place. “Don’t get me wrong, we love it here when it’s on, just not this year,” he told The Irish Times.

Declaring herself “a huge fan” of the festival, Elizabeth Mulhall said she was, nevertheless, “delighted” that it was not going ahead “given that we can’t have communions, confirmations, weddings, funerals etc in our own home town”.

Adrian Carroll, owner of Ram’s Bar in the village, agreed with the council’s decision, even though it is “a bit devastating” for local businesses. However, he said he has seen a decline in how much Stradbally has gained from the festival in recent years.