Friday 23 February 2018

Dublin City Council adopt proposals for amp ban in targeted areas Temple Bar and GPO

Street dancer Patrik Gluchowski gets into the groove on Dublin's Grafton Street. Photo: Frank McGrath
Street dancer Patrik Gluchowski gets into the groove on Dublin's Grafton Street. Photo: Frank McGrath
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

DUBLIN City Council (DCC) has rejected a proposal to impose a six-month blanket ban across the city on musicians using amplification.

It came as the council discussed new regulations for buskers, put forward by the council's Arts Committee.

A proposed amendment to the new by-laws, which came from the Fine Gael group of the council, was shot down by 44 votes to nine.

Instead the council adopted proposals for a ban on targeted areas of Temple Bar and the GPO.

The Arts Committee had proposed a ban on percussion and woodwind instruments in the areas, chosen in consideration to local residents, but an amendment to remove this ban was also carried.

It means that instruments such as drums and uilleann pipes can still be played in these areas.

However a sound intensity decibel limit of 75 has also been introduced for these specific areas.  A general limit of 80db will apply across the city.

The council has also decided to ban entirely the use of backing tracks by street musicians.

A previous report by DCC management indicated a ban on amps could allow the council to relax restrictions on performance times and permits.

But members of the council’s Arts Committee decided against banning instrument amplification across areas of the city centre.

That issue will go to public consultation in September, to see if there is a public appetite for an amp ban to be extended to areas such as Grafton Street.

Chairperson of the committee, Labour councillor Rebecca Moynihan, last month said it was decided to ban louder music in the specific area of Temple Bar to respect local residents.

A time restriction already applied on part of Essex Street East, which will now be extended to Temple Bar and include a ban on amps.

The area was extended at the council meeting to also include Temple Bar Square and the vicinity of the Crampton building of apartments.

That 80db sound intensity limit is similar to the sound of a freight train moving on a track, from about 15 metres away.

Some 12 times as many people wrote to the council asking it to scrap busking bylaws altogether as those who complained.

Ahead of the discussions, an unprecedented 6,228 emails were sent to the council in support of scrapping the laws.

Those emails were based on a template created by street performer representative organisation Dublin City Buskers.

However the council decided to consider the correspondence as one single submission, supported by a petition.

Later in the report, it claimed that 83pc of submissions made during consultation periods regarded the noise level created by amps and backing tracks.

“The performers’ position that amplifiers have now become essential and that to restrict their use is damaging to street performance is disingenuous,” the report said.

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