Monday, 22 February 2021
Ábhair Ghnó an tSeanaid – Matters on the Business of the Seanad
On Friday, I raised the issue of nightlife and the night economy. Thankfully, the Leader gave a commitment to invite the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Deputy Catherine Martin, in for a debate once the night-time task force has published its review. Little did I know that on Sunday the newspapers would lead with the issues around nightlife and the Minister for Justice's commitment to licensing reform. I amend my suggestion to propose that we instead invite both the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media into the House for a split debate. It should be a two-hour debate if possible but we should split the time between the two Departments. I welcome the statement by the Department of Justice on licensing reform. I will not go over the issues I raised on Friday but a huge amount of money is lost to that industry through needless bureaucracy which could be spent on developing venues, paying artists and attracting talent.
The other issue I wish to raise is that of consumption of alcohol in public. With the good weather, there were an increased number of people socialising around the canals last night. While this is a local authority issue relating to by-laws, I thought we might have a mature conversation about where Ireland is at. We all know there are cultural issues around the consumption of alcohol but I believe society is at a mature enough place that we could pilot a plan in certain areas, such as in Dublin city in the summer. Given that the Government is now calling for an outdoor summer, we should follow suit with other European cities in that respect.
Finally, there is a global shortage of film space, partly due to retail prices in LA and New York.There is also a content race among the streamers and studio space will be key to attracting big productions to Ireland. We know the tourism benefit of having "Star Wars" or "Game of Thrones" made here. The first report of the audiovisual action plan was published last year. It also mentioned the importance of studio space. Members will be aware that the proposed online safety and media regulation Bill will also give the State an opportunity to ensure that at least 30% of European content in the catalogues of streaming services will be European. There is an important need for a debate on film studios too.