Tuesday, 15 April 2003
Licensing of Indoor Events Bill 2001: Second Stage.
Michael Kitt (Fianna Fail)
I join in welcoming the Minister of State and congratulate him on the introduction of this Bill which received a positive response in the Dáil. I read some of the Dáil debate in that regard.
Indoor and outdoor events, whether in the entertainment or sports industry, raise many questions regarding safety. I note from recent articles in the media that there is a question mark over the holding of the proposed concert at Lisdoonvarna, a very successful outdoor concert in the 1980s. There was concern about crowd control and safety matters, be it at indoor or outdoor events. For this reason, it was important a code of conduct was drawn up. It was imperative that this be done following events at the Point Theatre where a young girl from Cork lost her life. I am glad we will now go one step further and introduce a licensing process. I welcome the Bill in that regard.
The Minister of State spoke about licensing events where the crowd exceeded 2,000. He has also stated he now intends to go further and deal with concerts with fewer than 2,000 in attendance. Crowd control is important. Our front-line services, the Garda, local authorities, health boards and ambulance service, are to be involved in the licensing stage of the process. We are all aware of the injuries and fatalities which have occurred at indoor events. There was another tragedy in Hillsborough, Great Britain, following which the Hamilton committee made 73 recommendations in its report. Many committees have been set up to examine indoor events and it is hoped, through this legislation, we will be able to implement their recommendations as quickly as possible.
We have all experienced times when we felt uncomfortable at indoor events in theatres and halls. We are also concerned about safety at outdoor events. Croke Park has been hailed as a state-of-the-art stadium but I have experienced a great deal of scrambling for shelter on a wet day. People go to the top of the stand where they presume they will be better sheltered. I have seen the same thing happen at Lansdowne Road which has been the subject of much talk on many occasions in relation to upgrading or demolition. One sees a great deal of scrambling for better sheltered seats on a wet evening.