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24-hour public transport for major cities to be explored by task-force on boosting nightlife

Government also comes under fire over supports to artists and musicians

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Temple Bar in Dublin City Centre

Temple Bar in Dublin City Centre

Temple Bar in Dublin City Centre

THE expansion of 24-hour public transport in major cities and towns will be explored by a taskforce aimed at boosting nightlife as the country reopens from coronavirus restrictions.

Culture Minister Catherine Martin confirmed this will form part of the work of a Night-time Economy Taskforce that is to be established next week as the government also sustained criticism over supports to the arts and entertainment sector.

Dublin Fingal Labour TD Duncan Smith raised the issue of the night-life taskforce in the Dáil. He spoke of the need to reform licencing laws and also of the plight of pubs and restaurants in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said a lot of them remain closed and this time should be used to plan for when they reopen not only during the day but through the night.

Mr Smith also pointed to the need for a "vibrant night-time culture" to be supported by 24-hour public transport in Dublin, Cork and other major cities and towns and he asked what work the taskforce will be doing on this.

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Duncan Smith TD

Duncan Smith TD

Duncan Smith TD

Ms Martin said the Gardaí and Department of Justice will be involved in the deliberations on reforming licencing laws while the Department of Transport will also be represented on the taskforce.

She said it will engage with all relevant groups to make it effective and the taskforce is to report in the Autumn.

Ms Martin said she will be recommending that a representative from the Give us the Night campaign organisation be included in the taskforce.

She said it has sought the expansion of 24-hour public transport services and the taskforce will be looking at that issue.

"They’re complex but we intend to address them," she said.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the arts, music, entertainment and events sector is "facing an absolutely dire crisis" and they see no roadmap to recovery. He said incomes have been "devastated". He asked what the government will do in the July Stimulus plan to support the sector.

Ms Martin agreed they have taken a "massive hit".

She said there are grants and low-costs loans available to businesses in the sector and the government has extended universal income supports to all workers.

Ms Martin promised further measures in the July Stimulus and she insisted she is "fighting" for supports for arts and entertainment workers in Cabinet sub-committee meetings on the package.

Mr Boyd Barrett said the introduction of a lower €203-a-week rate for people on the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) brought in for people paid less then €200-a-week before the crisis had impacted many artists significantly.

He referred to proposals that the top rate of the PUP - €350 - will be cut to €300-a-week in the autumn and claimed this will "further punish people such as artists". He called for a basic income for artists, crew, performers and musicians.

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People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the arts, music, entertainment and events sector is "facing an absolutely dire crisis". Photo: Caroline Quinn

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the arts, music, entertainment and events sector is "facing an absolutely dire crisis". Photo: Caroline Quinn

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the arts, music, entertainment and events sector is "facing an absolutely dire crisis". Photo: Caroline Quinn

Ms Martin did not address this suggestion directly but said she's examining a "suite of measures" to sustain the arts and culture sector and "fighting for a whole range of supports".

She said the said the issue of the PUP is a matter for the Departments of Social Protection and Finance.

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