Minister urges support for Bill outlawing ticket touting

Denis Naughten says touting has become big business and ‘people are being exploited’

Government Minister Denis Naughten has said he will recommend to the cabinet that it supports a Private Members' Bill outlawing ticket touting.

Mr Naughten said the issue, which came to the fore after tickets to the U2 concert went on sale at vastly inflated prices, would be brought before cabinet on Tuesday and he would be urging the Government to support it.

The Private Members' Bill, drafted by Fine Gael TD Noel Rock and Independent TD Stephen Donnelly, would ban the resale of tickets for above face value, with the exception of tickets which are auctioned for charity. Mr Naughten and the former minister for justice Alan Shatter brought forward a Bill against touting in the early part of the last decade when they were both Fine Gael TDs, but it did not make it past committee stage.

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment said the Private Members’ Bill being put forward is substantially the same as the one he put forward, but the problem has got worse in the meantime.

“Technology has moved on since. Then it was just purely ticket touting on the streets and people using private ads in newspapers,” he said. “Now it has turned out to be big business and a lot of people have got caught. People are being exploited.”

Mr Naughten said his Bill may have been dropped because of assurances from the music industry that the issue was being dealt with, but those assurances had never come to pass.

“I have heard all the arguments against a Bill like this before. I will be bound by the Cabinet decision and I’ll respect that decision, but I will be arguing at Cabinet that we should be supporting it.”

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has already announced an investigation into suspected breaches of competition law in relation to the provision of tickets.

The CCPC has issued witness summonses and formal requirements for information to those involved.

‘Grave concerns’

Mr Rock said he was grateful for the support of Mr Naughten. He said evidence given at a House of Commons committee last year suggesting there was paramilitary involvement in ticket touting had raised “very grave concerns” about who was benefiting from the practice. “It is a potentially easy way of laundering money,” he said.

Reg Walker of Iridium Consultancy told the UK culture, media and sport committee that "there are other organised crime groups within ticket touting that are linked to paramilitary activity in Dublin at the moment and the same paramilitary group is in Marbella in Spain. "

Mr Rock said there was a "clear conflict of interest" between Ticketmaster which has a monopoly on ticket sales and the fact that it also owns Seatwave, one of the biggest players in the secondary market.