Tuesday, 15 April 2003
Licensing of Indoor Events Bill 2001: Second Stage.
Pat Gallagher (Minister of State, Department of the Environment and Local Government; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
I welcome the opportunity to appear before the Seanad today to discuss the Licensing of Indoor Events Bill 2001, the primary purpose of which is to ensure public safety at large-scale indoor events. The Bill is set out in three Parts. Parts 1 and 2 relate to the licensing system for indoor events while Part 3 relates to amendments to the Fire Services Act 1981.
Like anyone else going out for an evening's entertainment, I want to be assured that my safety is a priority for those in control of the premises. The Bill aims to do this. When enacted, it will ensure public safety and crowd management will be taken into account when an event is going through the new licensing process. When taken with the Planning and Development Act 2000 and associated regulations on outdoor events, it will mean that we will have new and updated requirements covering public safety and crowd management issues for both outdoor and indoor events. The licensing system will apply equally to both public and private events.
It may be appropriate at this point to recall the background to the Bill. A committee chaired by Mr. Justice Hamilton examined the question of public safety and crowd controls and reported in 1990. The committee examined in detail all safety aspects of entertainment such as concerts and concluded that primary responsibility for public safety should attach to the organisers and promoters of such events. It made a series of recommendations on public safety and crowd control, many of which have been implemented in the intervening years.
The changing nature of events and venues has given rise to concerns about public safety in recent times, particularly where young people are involved. Following on the recommendations of the Hamilton report, two codes of practice – on safety at sports grounds and at outdoor pop concerts – had been published by the Department of Education and Science in 1996. A tragic death which occurred at a concert in the Point Theatre in the same year gave impetus to the development and putting in place of a third code of practice on safety at indoor events. My Department in 1998 published the code of practice for safety at indoor concerts which reflects the general principles of safety and the organisational parameters set out in the other codes, all of which reflect the recommendations of the report of the Hamilton committee on public safety and crowd control.