Tuesday 21 November 2017

Ministers ponder ban on re-sale of tickets following public's fury at 'profiteers'

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock Picture: Tom Burke
Fine Gael TD Noel Rock Picture: Tom Burke
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Ministers are actively considering the introduction of strict new laws aimed at tackling ticket touts amid fears the growing controversy could jeopardise Ireland's bids to land major sporting events.

A high level Government document, seen by the Irish Independent, says the introduction of a ban on the re-sale of tickets would send a "strong signal of public disapproval of ticket profiteering".

A legislative ban has already been laid down in parts of the US and Canada, the paper said, and would "offer a clear and comprehensive approach" to dealing with the issue.

However it warned that by introducing legislation aimed at addressing the issue, there was the risk of creating a new kind of black market.

Other options put forward by the authors of the report are permitting the resale of tickets at face value or the introduction of a specific cap on the price that can be paid.

The problem of ticket touting resurfaced recently after it emerged some U2 tickets for the concert in Croke Park in July were selling on the internet for almost €900 each.

The consultation document, which runs to 63 pages, was compiled by officials in the Departments of Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation, and Transport, Tourism and Sport.

It said the issue was also given prominence following the investigation by Brazilian law enforcement authorities into the reselling of tickets for the Rio Olympics "alleged to have been originally allocated to the Olympic Council of Ireland".

The report noted that the matter was currently the subject of legal action.

It said that the re-sale of tickets for major sporting and entertainment events at a price in excess of their face value was "a cause of recurring public concern".

It pointed to a series of matters that would need to be considered if the Government opted for a legal ban.

These included the driving of ticket reselling "underground", as well as the prospect of diverting the practice to other countries.

The report noted that a "less draconian" approach would be the introduction of price caps on tickets being resold, a move that had been introduced in parts of the US.

The report will now be closely examined by Sports Minister Patrick O'Donovan and Enterprise Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor.

There were a number of caveats contained in the report, including the fact that there was a lack of hard data to back up claims that tickets were being sold at inflated costs.

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock and Independent TD Stephen Donnelly are drawing up their bill aimed at addressing the issue of ticket touts.

Government sources last night said the recent controversy surrounding U2 tickets would expedite measures in this area. However, the same sources stressed that Ireland must address the issue as it prepares to host group games as part of the Uefa European Championships in 2020.

It is also essential to our bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

Ireland is currently favourite to land the competition.

Irish Independent

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