independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Noisy buskers may face arrest under new clampdown

Shoppers on Dublin's Grafton Street
Shoppers on Dublin's Grafton Street

BUSKERS who play loud music could be arrested and have their equipment confiscated under a new clampdown.

Fines of up to €1,900 could also be issued for breaches under new laws proposed by Dublin City Council.

The Control of Street Performers bye-law has been included in a revised version of the regulations after gardai complained their powers in the original document were "ambiguous".

Under the draft bye-laws, buskers would have curfews, they would only be able to use a single, 15-watt amplifier and they would not be allowed to produce a noise "so loud, so continuous, so repeated" as to cause an annoyance.

If gardai believe a performer has breached the regulations, they will be able to direct the offender to "desist" and immediately leave the vicinity.

Failure to comply would be punishable on summary conviction in the district court by a fine not exceeding €1,900.

Officers would be able to demand names and addresses and a refusal – or providing a false name and address – could also attract a €1,900 penalty.

Where a garda reasonably believes a person has committed an offence, he or she "may confiscate any equipment employed in the committing of the offence", according to the revised document. Gardai would have the power to arrest a street performer without warrant.

Fine Gael councillor Gerry Breen said the revisions were necessary in order to make the bye-laws effective.

"It's no good having regulations unless they are underpinned by serious actions if they are not adhered to," said Mr Breen, who is a member of the council's Arts Strategic Policy Committee (SPC).

However, the stringent nature of the measures is likely to lead to a backlash from Dublin's community of street performers.

The capital is famed for its busking tradition, with 'Saints and Sinners' singer Paddy Casey and Oscar-winner Glen Hansard both starting out on Grafton Street.

Assistant City Manager Brendan Kenny said the extra powers had been expanded in line with the model used in the Intoxicating Liquor Bye-Laws.

Mr Kenny told the Sunday Independent: "Street performance is a time-honoured art form in Dublin city centre, which enhances the character of the city and adds to its attractiveness and colour.

"Unfortunately, in recent years an increase in the number of complaints to the city council, An Garda Siochana and the various business representative organisations has given rise to a call for this art form to be regulated at least to some degree.

"Dublin City Council recognises the need to achieve a balanced approach to ensure that this popular art form is preserved, and is aware of the potential that over-regulation might stifle the spontaneity and creativity of this art form."

A voluntary code previously introduced by the local authority was largely ignored.

If the bye-laws are passed by councillors, a person won't be able to perform in a public place before 9am or after 11pm except on Grafton Street and in Temple Bar, where the curfew will be 1am on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Busking immediately adjacent to residential areas will be prohibited at all times.

Among the performers covered by the regulations are musicians, singers, dancers, puppeteers, jugglers, magicians and human statues.

The draft document will come before the Arts SPC for approval this Wednesday and will then have to be approved by a full meeting of the city council.

Irish Independent

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