Tickets for rock concerts, sporting events should not be for ‘those with deepest pockets’

Long-awaited ban on ticket touting moved a step closer as Minister introduces Bill in Dáil

The long awaited ban on the sale of tickets above face value for music and sporting events moved a step closer with the introduction in the Dáil of legislation to deal with touts.

Minister for Enterprise Heather Humphreys told the House that it should never be the case that tickets for rock concerts and sporting events go to "those with the deepest pockets".

Up to 50 events a year are affected by ticket touting especially for major acts including concerts by U2, Britney Spears and the Spice Girls, the Minister said.

She added that high profile sporting fixtures such as this weekend’s Ireland v England rugby international was also affected with tickets for re-sale for thousands of euro.


And she said there was a similar experience for GAA all-Ireland finals and semi-finals.

Introducing the Prohibition of Above-Cost Ticket Touting Bill, Ms Humphreys said the Bill would ban the sale of tickets above their face value at venues with a capacity for 1,000 people or more.

She will also introduce an amendment to prohibit the use of “Bots”, software technology that allows instant purchase online of multiples tickets.

The Minister said the Government could assure the European soccer body Uefa that unauthorised above face value priced tickets will not be allowed for Euro 2020, which takes place in 12 cities in Europe including Dublin.

She warned however that the legislation may have to be referred to the European Commission. This is a practice where a member state informs other EU countries of its legislative changes and checks whether it complies with overall EU provisions.

Private member’s Bill

The legislation is a private member's Bill sponsored by Fine Gael TD Noel Rock and Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly but supported by Government.

Mr Rock said the Bill “effectively bans the sale of above cost tickets - that’s it”.

Technology had allowed people to distort the market allowing the purchase of tickets by bots and their resale on secondary websites and real people were being “bullied off the pitch” by those whose sole interest was to make a profit.

Fianna Fail TD Stephen Donnelly said tickets went on sale this week with a €70 face value for singer Ariana Grande but were now costing hundreds of euro on secondary sites.

And “even the toughest parents can be worn down” by the pester power of crying children to pay vastly inflated prices online for tickets. It was time he said to “break free from these ticket touts”.

Once the legislation is signed into law, he said, “everyone in Ireland will know that to offer a ticket above face value is illegal”.

But Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan criticised the "glacial pace" of Government movement on the issue.

Mr Quinlivan introduced similar legislation two years ago “but Fine Gael sought to delay it because it was from a Sinn Féin Deputy”.

He also criticised the decision to increase the venue size for which the Bill would be applicable from 300 seats to 1,000. Mr Quinlivan said that would exclude dozens of theatres including the National Opera House in Wexford with over 800 seats, the Abbey and Tivoli Theatres in Dublin and the Lime Tree theatre in Limerick.

Labour TD Jan O’Sullivan said one of the biggest problems was the use of bot technology. But she expressed concern for the 275 jobs in an IDA-backed company in her Limerick constituency that offers customer service for an online company offering a platform for the resale of tickets.

Debate on the Bill continues.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times