Minister for Arts Catherine Martin demands to be placed on Covid committee amid row over restarting of live events

The Minister for Arts Catherine Martin has demanded to be placed on the high-level Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19 over her concerns that the plight of the live music events industry is not being taken seriously by party leaders.

s Martin is understood to be furious that a roadmap that she presented to the committee for reopening the sector that she gave to the committee was ignored.

Sources close to the Minister said that she has “deep concerns” between the “disparity” of the pace of reopening between the sports and music industry sector.

Sources said this afternoon that she wrote to three party leaders two weeks ago expressing her “deep concern” for the music industry.

She also expressed her “unhappiness” with the “pace of reopening” between music and sports events.

Ms Martin gave her Cabinet colleagues a roadmap with the dates that the live sector could be reopened on August 6, but was “disappointed” when it was rejected, it is understood.

In a meeting with music industry stakeholders this afternoon, sources said that she made an “impassioned address” to music industry representatives.

The Committee is currently scheduled to meet tomorrow morning, and normally hears from public health chiefs.

Minister Martin said that she has asked to be at the committee for the next two meetings.

Minister Eamon Ryan is understood to be trying to secure her attendance at the meetings.

Speaking to, Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland (MEAI) spokesperson Matt McGranaghan said that it is “deeply disappointing” that Minister Martin was unable to give the sector a date for reopening today.

The meeting among stakeholders was understood to hear some heated discussion from contributors, where industry representatives were given two or three minutes to make a contribution.

However, Mr McGranaghan said that the “prevailing message” is that all representatives want a safe and responsible reopening.

15 groups attended the meeting, including Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Chief Medical Officers representatives as they were unable to make the meeting.

Five government departments were at the meeting, including Health.

Another meeting will take place on Wednesday.

The Minster for Arts, Catherine Martin will meet with representatives from the live music sector as they repeat their call for more clarity on when live music can return.

Earlier Melvin Benn, Director of Festival Republic, said he will “never give up” on this year’s festival, but is not hopeful that the decision from Laois Country Council will be reversed.

“Does it give me hope that they are going to reverse the decision on the Electric Picnic? Not that much.

“I was very optimistic and wanted to be optimistic in order to force a decision. We got a decision and it’s the wrong the decision as far as I am concerned. I understand it why LCC created it,” he told RTE’s News at One.

Earlier this month, Laois County Council refused organisers a licence to hold this year’s festival, on the basis that the decision was made following the “most up-to-date” health advice from the HSE.

The Electric Picnic music festival had been due to take place from September 24 to 26 at Stradbally Hall Estate.

Mr Benn said there has been a “complete lack of leadership” from the government in relation to the full reopening of the music industry, and does not expect much to come from the meeting with Minister Martin.

“There’s a complete lack of leadership I’m afraid. I’m just angry,” he said.

Mr Benn, who also runs large scale festivals in the US and the UK said there has been a contrast in political leadership in Ireland and abroad, and could not understand why festivals were taking place in UK and the US, but not Ireland.

“Leadership, political leadership, that’s the contrast, it’s no more than that. I mean it’s the same virus, it isn’t a different virus in Ireland that it is in UK or America. It isn’t a different science, the science is as clear as it comes.

“You can put people together, particularly in outdoor spaces, and provided they’re all tested and providing they’re all fully vaccinated, there will not be a spike as a result of it. The science is there but it is not being read and adopted and the clear difference is political leadership, no more than that,” he said.

More to follow…

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