New busking rules restrict use of amps and backing tracks

Dublin City Council introduce bylaws that mean buskers have to move every two hours

We speak to to three buskers on Grafton Street on the day when Dublin City Council have updated their street performance bye-laws. Video: Bryan O'Brien


Dublin could become a lot less musical after the introduction of new busking bylaws by Dublin City Council on Monday.

The new regulations ban the use of backing tracks and pre-recorded music from being played “in any circumstances” across the city and restricts the use of amplifiers and where dance troupes are allowed to perform.

The use of amplifiers has been banned completely in Temple Bar, while a permit is now required by buskers who want to use an amplifier on Grafton Street and in other parts of the city.

These permits will have to be purchased from Dublin City Council at a cost of €60 per year or €20 for a visiting street performance.

The local authority has not yet banned the use of amplifiers on Grafton Street, but has said it will revisit in the issue in future.

John Mahon, a college student and who has been busking for a year, said: “It’s my job basically, so this is how I can make a few quid and put some food on the table.”

Mahon plays ragtime music with a finger-picking style of guitar which requires an amplifier to be properly heard. “I’ve one year left in college, if they ban the amp in September I’m going to pack it in and give it up, that’s me finished with busking,” said Mahon.

Meanwhile, buskers will now have to perform against the clock, since they will only be allowed to stay in most places for two hours before having to find another pitch. On Grafton Street, they will have to move after an hour.

Once the time has expired musicians and singers will have to move 100 metres away and they will not be allowed to return for the rest of the day. Meanwhile, large dance troupes will only be able to perform at the top of Grafton Street. They, too, will be subject to time restrictions. The new bylaws will be enforced by the gardaí, says the council.