Musician Paddy Cole has told Tánaiste Leo Varadkar he would be “deeply uncomfortable” if Attorney General Paul Gallagher is to advise the Government on amending legislation that could benefit 5,000 Irish music and stage performers.
After a four-year legal battle between Recorded Artists Actors Performers (RAAP) — a society set up to protect and support performers’ rights — and Phonographic Performance Ireland (PPI), the EU ordered the Government to amend legislation that would give performers 50pc of the money collected by music producers for broadcasting and public performances of their work.
From 2016 until 2020, when the case was decided in favour of RAAP (of which Cole is chairman), Mr Gallagher was lead senior counsel for the rights collecting agency PPI, the defendants in the case.
Mr Cole, one of the best-known saxophone players in the country, has now written to Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Mr Varadkar and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, outlining his organisation’s “frustration at the failure of the State to properly implement an EU directive as directed by a decision of the (EU) Court of Justice”.
He claimed performers are “losing millions owing to state failures” in this regard.
“We certainly do not intend any slight to the Attorney General, but we ask for your assurance for our members that the decision-making on this matter by the Government will be handled by someone other than the Attorney General personally,” Mr Cole wrote in a letter to Mr Varadkar in his capacity as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
“The long delay in rectifying the legislation, given that your department admitted in writing as far back as 2015 that it is flawed, is inexplicable.
“It is equally extraordinary that the State has allowed over a year to elapse since a decision of the Court of Justice, during which period it has been in flagrant breach of European law.”
Mr Gallagher has become embroiled in controversy after it emerged he had continued to advise a number of existing clients after he became the Government’s chief legal advisor in 2020.
Mr Cole has campaigned for a number of years for better royalties for more than 5,000 RAAP members.
“The survival of RAAP is actively and genuinely threatened,” he told Mr Varadkar in a letter copied to Mr Martin, dated October 6. “In the event that if fails to survive, there will be no independent collecting society to represent performers’ interests.”
In response to questions from the Sunday Independent, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment said: “The Government is committed to bringing forward appropriate amendments to national legislation at the earliest opportunity.”
It did not respond to queries on the role Mr Gallagher will play.