Tipperary Deputy Mattie Mc Grath, who is leader of the Rural Independent Group in the Dáil, has called on the government to urgently address the impending ‘cliff-edging’ situation for many musicians and other live performers in September, who could potentially be left without income this winter.
Speaking today (Friday 23rd July) from his Tipperary constituency, Deputy Mc Grath stated:
“As a member of the Oireachtas’ cross party support group for the music and entertainment industry, I have been constantly calling for clarity, consistency and a workable financial safety net for all musicians and live performers, since the pandemic began.”
“Our committee has made ongoing recommendations to both Ministers, Catherine Martin and Heather Humphreys. So far, both Ministers have completely failed to address these concerns and those of the entire sector, which include extending the PUP for new applicants, increasing the scheme’s flexibility and axing the complex red-tape surrounding this and other support schemes.”
“The government dragged their heels in providing financial support for performers. Further complicating matters, the conditions attached to these delayed supports made it impossible to access for some performers. Now, a performer, who garners employment in July or August and ceases the PUP payment, would then be precluded from re-accessing the scheme, as it is closed to new applicants. Thus, those people would be left without any support in the autumn and winter.”
“Additionally, the government’s changes to the PUP payment scheme mean anyone getting the payment would receive lower payments from September. This change is aimed at transitioning towards the Jobseekers Allowance – meaning individuals would be classified as unemployed and would force many performers to wrap up their business.”
“The lack of flexibility and understanding on the part of the government, to the difficulties being faced by performers, means that many individuals in the music and live performance industries are extremely anxious and concerned. In fact, so serious is their plight that many are now selling equipment to pay bills.”
“Concurrently, the biggest obstacles being experienced by performers in accessing Covid support payments is bureaucracy and red-tape. I have consistently been calling for a simplified and workable solution, which takes the unique circumstances of the entire sector into account. These issues can be easily addressed; all that is needed is the political will by the government.”
“I am pleading with the Minister for Tourism, Culture and the Arts, and the Minister for Social Protection to begin listening to the music and entertainment sectors and make the necessary changes to the Covid financial support schemes earmarked for them immediately. The Ministers must realise that the lack of gigs available to these performers is directly caused by ongoing government restrictions.”
“In the event that both Ministers and the government do not address this issue with clarity and certainty, then it is likely that Ireland’s rich and much-loved music and live performing sectors will be eventually decimated,” concluded Deputy Mc Grath.