Wednesday, 15 December 2021
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
It is a hat-trick for the Premier County today. It is good to engage with Deputy McGrath. The Minister, Deputy Catherine Martin, has had ongoing engagement with representatives of the sector and, in fact, her officials met with them again yesterday. The Minister attended the meeting along with me and the Tánaiste on 6 December. The MEAI, to which the Deputy referred, was in attendance at that meeting and fully participated in and spoke at it, so there has been and continues to be ongoing engagement. The Minister, Deputy Martin, has always advocated very strongly around the Cabinet table and in all her bilateral engagements for this sector because she and all of Government recognise that it has been among the most impacted since March 2020. We want to protect all elements of our culture and heritage, including traditional music, which I know the Deputy enjoys so much. It is such an important part of the fabric of Irish society. That is why we have brought forward a lot of supports. The way in which they translate and work their way through to individual musicians can sometimes be a challenge, which we accept, but in recent weeks, as the Deputy knows, the Minister outlined a further package for the live entertainment sector. This comprises €5 million for the seasonal musical theatre and pantomime scheme and another round of the live performance support scheme, which has enabled so many different events and live performances to take place. There will be further funding for that in the fourth round that will come in the months ahead. There has been additional funding as well for local authorities to support local artists and local performances through the local live performance support scheme. We are also providing funding to venues for capital supports to enable them to upgrade their premises to be able to continue to operate to the maximum degree possible within the confines of the public health guidelines we have.
We acknowledge that the public have responded to the public health messaging over the past number of weeks, and the sector that has had to carry the burden of that has been the night-time economy, the live entertainment and hospitality sector. We have reopened the PUP scheme since, I believe, 7 December for people who are directly impacted by the new restrictions that have been introduced. I am aware of the issues the Deputy has raised. A number of individuals have contacted me directly about their own cases. Those are being examined and I am discussing those issues with the Minister, Deputy Humphreys, to see what we can do to ensure that people who need the support and who are directly impacted by the imposition of these additional restrictions get the support at this time. That is why it was put in place in the first place. We have spent approximately €9 billion to date on the PUP and another €9 billion on wage supports. The Government, therefore, has not been found wanting in looking after people who have been the most directly impacted.
I welcome the Deputy's feedback and it will be taken on board.