Timeline for live events reopening in ‘next week or so’, says Coveney

Minister stresses Government keen to provide certainty to sector after ‘devastating’ lockdown

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said the Government should be able to provide a timeline for the reopening of the live events sector "within the next week or so".

Mr Coveney said he could empathise with the 35,000 people working in the live events and entertainment sector, which contributes €3.6 billion annually to the Irish economy, who have been largely out of work since March 2020 and the first Covid-19 lockdown.

“It’s been devastating for musicians, performers, live venues. For many, many months now, they’ve simply been unable to work. For many people, who enjoy live venues, in terms of how society functions and socialises and so on, the absence of live performance has really been missed, I think.

“As a Government, we are really anxious to get back to facilitating live performance again. I know what is being asked for here, which is simply certainty and a timeline. No one is being unreasonable here. I think we will be able to provide that certainty and timeline within the next week or so.”

Speaking at the launch of the 32nd Cork French Film Festival, Mr Coveney said Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Government Ministers had made a commitment to provide that certainty.

“We are very conscious we need to provide a clear roadmap into September and beyond, that is of course consistent with public health advice but also recognises the intense frustration that many in this sector are currently living with . . . people won’t have to wait much longer for that certainty.”

Minister for Arts Catherine Martin held a meeting with representatives of the music industry on Wednesday during which she told them that she had pressed Cabinet colleagues for a date for reopening, but was rebuffed.

It is understood that she also wrote to the three Coalition party leaders expressing her “deep concern for the industry”.

Ms Martin submitted a plan with dates for reopening to the Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19 earlier this month, but it was not adopted. She sought an invite to Thursday’s meeting of the sub-committee, but her request was rebuffed.

She wanted to make representations on behalf of the arts sector, which is seeking a firm date for the reopening of the industry.

Government sources said it was normal practice that a line Minister would attend the subcommittee when issues relevant to their sector were being considered, and that Ms Martin may attend in this context next week.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times