Minister tells music industry of bid to raise plight within Coalition

Minister for Culture Catherine Martin expresses frustration at failure to open sector

Minister for Culture Catherine Martin met representatives of the music industry. They  are pressing the Government to name a date for the return of live music. File photograph: The Irish Times

Minister for Culture Catherine Martin met representatives of the music industry. They are pressing the Government to name a date for the return of live music. File photograph: The Irish Times

 

Green Party Minister for Culture Catherine Martin has told representatives of the music industry that her attempts at inclusion on the coronavirus Cabinet sub-committee have been unsuccessful.

Ms Martin said that she had requested to be allowed attend the sub-committee to raise the plight of the music industry, which is the only sector not yet open, but has been rebuffed.

The Minister met representatives of the industry on Wednesday afternoon who are pressing the Government to name a date for the return of live music indoors and out.

Event Industry Alliance spokesman Justin Green, who attended the meeting, said continued closure of the industry was a “shameful indictment” of the Government. However, he absolved Ms Martin who he said was doing her best to reopen the sector.

He criticised the absence from the meeting of Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar or the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly. All were invited to attend.

Mr Green said it was “deeply distressing” to hear the Minister say she has not been able to get on the Cabinet sub-committee. He said “no evidence” was produced to show that events in any way in other jurisdictions cause spikes in Covid-19 numbers.

“We got the impression that she is doing all she can, but in my opinion the country is being run by Nphet [National Public Health Emergency Team],” he said.

“Minister Martin reached out to people on the call and asked us to reach out to her colleagues in Government. We are on a call to seek guidance from a Minister who is in charge of the sector and she is asking us to reach out to her Government colleagues to lobby and engage with them. She told us she tried her hardest, but her call to be included on the sub-committee has gone unanswered.”

Mr Green told the Minister that the failure to include her on the sub-committee was “quite frankly, an insult not only to your good self, as the relevant Minister, but also demonstrates clear disregard for our sector, and complete contempt for every Irish citizen”.

The alliance has called for a full reopening of indoor and outdoor events to fully vaccinated people from September 1st and the extension of business and worker supports up to June next year.

Frustration

Jackie Conboy of the Music & Entertainment Association of Ireland (MEAI) said the Minister conveyed she was “as frustrated as we are”.

The MEAI represents 5,000 musicians and performers in the sector. “She told us we are pushing an open door with her. She wants opening, but she is not on the Covid sub-committee,” added Mr Conboy.

He also said that Ms Martin had invited Cabinet colleagues to the meeting but they declined to attend.

Instead there were officials from five different departments there. “It’s an insult to the industry. They are not taking the industry seriously,” said Mr Conboy.

Ms Martin said a further meeting will be held next week to get an update as we go along.

“There has to be engagement,” said Mr Conboy.

He said the music industry would need two to three months to get up and running again and it would work with any date the Minister could gave them.

The industry has said repeatedly that concerts are up and running north of the Border with 10,000 attending Féile na Pobail last week in Belfast.