Irish musicians post video in call for help from Budget 2021

Thousands on the ‘breadline’ with live music venues closed since March

A group representing some of Ireland’s best known musicians has posted a video online calling for the Government to restore the pandemic unemployment payment within the music industry.

Steve Wall of the Stunning, Phil Coulter, Nathan Carter, Mark Black, Pat Shortt, Mundy and Picture House are among the stars who appear in the video.

Coulter, one of Ireland’s best known songwriters described March 14th, the day the lockdown was announced as the “day the music died”.

The Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland (MEAI) was formed in March after the closure of all live venues deprived the majority of musicians of their chief source of income.


Musicians want the reinstatement of the PUP at €350 per week, at a single tier, and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) at €410 per week until the industry can reopen without social distancing.

It also wants legislation which guarantees payment breaks of mortgages and loans from financial institutions without penal cost to those who work in the industry until venues reopen.

A third demand is for a hardship fund created by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the Department of Arts & Culture and the Arts Council funded by 5 per cent of the Arts Council's overall budget.

Last year’s Arts Council budget was €193 million. A 5 per cent share would be almost €10 million.

MEAI is also seeking a reduced VAT rate of 9 per cent for the music and entertainment sector, examination of high vehicle insurance costs and a review of the criteria for Arts Council funding to include funding for those who work in the “non-subsidised” sector.

The video, which has been posted on YouTube and Facebook, has been retweeted by U2.

"This is a powerful endorsement of the case we are making", said MEAI founder Jackie Conboy.

“Having the biggest band in the world supporting our case is incredible and we are very grateful to Bono, the Edge, Larry and Adam.”

Mr Conboy said most of the 5,000 members of the MEAI are “on the breadline” as they have not worked since March.

Since that time the PUP has been reduced and six month mortgage breaks have not been extended.

“Unless the Government steps in to help, people are going to be in a drastic situation with some having to sell their equipment or even face the prospect of losing their car, van or family home,” he said.

MEAI has already warned that things are so bad for some in the industry that they are having to sell off their instruments while some may even lose their family homes.

The organisation has also found that many members are suffering mental health issues as a result of the shutdown and no work.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times