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Simon Coveney says Cork Jazz Festival expected to go ahead next week despite Covid jitters


Mos Def. Picture: Reuters

Mos Def. Picture: Reuters

Mos Def. Picture: Reuters

FOREIGN Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said it was expected that the 43rd Guinness Cork Jazz Festival will proceed over the October bank holiday weekend as planned.

The Cork TD’s comments came amid mounting concern over the surging number of Covid-19 cases in Ireland and the prospect of the easing of virus control protocols being stalled.

The 43rd Cork Jazz event will be the first large-scale festival to be allowed in Ireland in the 18 months since the Covid-19 pandemic first erupted.

It had been planned to allow protocols including the use of vaccination digital passports for indoor dining to be dropped from October 22.

However, the Government, NPHET and health chiefs are now considering whether to stall the lifting of all final control protocols given the recent surge in case numbers.

There has been speculation the Government may stall the removal of the final protocols until the virus surge abates - and may also fast-track a booster jab programme.

Mr Coveney said the expectation was that the Cork Jazz would go ahead - but refused to speculate on what measures the Government will take next week to tackle the surge in Covid-19 cases.

"[The Government] will make a decision and give full clarity in terms of the levels of (national) pandemic restrictions that are removed from October 22," he said.

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"I am not going to make predictions [about what will be agreed next week]."

New York hip-hop legend Mos Def will headline the 43rd Guinness Cork Jazz which it was hoped will blaze the trail for the return of other major Irish music and cultural events after the pandemic shutdown.

The festival, which is worth €45 million to the wider Cork economy, was cancelled last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Founded in 1978, Cork Jazz ranks as one of Ireland's longest-running annual music events.

The event, which is scheduled to run from October 22-25, will feature such acts as Mos Def (Yasiin Bey), Matthew Halsall, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Mick Flannery, Susan O’Neill, Mack Fleetwood, DJ Jenny Greene, King Kong Company and Kit Downes.

Diageo partnerships director Rory Sheridan said it was very exciting to see Cork Jazz return.

“Ireland is brimming with some of the most talented and creative musicians, artists and performers, but during the last 18 months they’ve had no stage, no pubs, no venues or stadiums," he said.

"We’ve all missed the hum of the crowd and the beat of the drum, so we are delighted to welcome back The Guinness Cork Jazz Festival, providing a platform for musicians to perform and welcoming thousands of people to Cork to enjoy the festival atmosphere that we have all been looking forward to returning.

"This will be the first major festival in Ireland since the pandemic to take place, which is a significant milestone not only for musicians and the events industry who have been one of the hardest hit industries, but also for festival goers who have been waiting for some good news.”

Cork Jazz chairperson Fiona Collins said events associated with the festival will also prove a major attraction.

“One of the highlights for many will be the Fringe Festival which will see some of the finest brass bands returning, including the New York Brass and Hyde Park, as well as more familiar local bands such as Rebel Brass bringing music to the streets of Cork,” she said.

The Jazz Festival Club at the Metropole Hotel will host fans of swing, funk, groove, blues and Dixieland for an exciting mix of Irish and international acts on several stages throughout the hotel.

A special music trail sees the city come alive with the sights and sounds that spans over 60 different Cork venues.

Blarney and Kinsale will also host major music events over the bank holiday weekend.

Over the years, the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival has featured a galaxy of jazz greats including Ella Fitzgerald, George Shearing, Cleo Laine, Art Blakey, Gerry Mulligan, Mel Torme, Sonny Rollins, Wynton Marsalis, B.B. King, Dave Brubeck, Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Elvin Jones, Joe Lovano, Michael Brecker, Jan Garbarek, Chick Corea and a host of other top international jazz names.

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