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Hospitality and entertainment workers protest in Ballina


ENOUGH IS ENOUGH Protestors pictured on O’Rahilly Street in Ballina making their views know about the delay in the reopening of hospitality and entertainment industries.  Pic: John O’Grady

Anne-Marie Flynn

Over 300 protesters from the hospitality and entertainment industries marched in Ballina on Saturday last, July 3 to protest against the delayed re-opening of both industries by the government, on the advice of NPHET last week. Organised by Noel Regan, proprietor of Crockets Quay Bistro, Ballina, the protest was intended to communicate the frustration and anger of both industries at the poor communication from government, and the perceived lack of inconsistency in the application of guidelines. Protesters called for full re-opening by July 19, the date on which the government has proposed to present a new plan.
Speaking yesterday, Regan said: “I’m grateful to the businesses who brought their staff out on Saturday, to protest against these inequalities, the lack of respect shown to our industries, and the implication of these unworkable and discriminatory proposals for our staff. We wanted to let this disconnected government now how angry and demoralised we are. We are upset at the lack of respect for our livelihoods and our wellbeing, especially after the frustrating weekend we have just endured, with the thunderstorms and torrential rain causing last minute cancellations everywhere.
He continued: “This form of operating is just not sustainable for businesses. We demand that this decision is revisited immediately and an evidence-based approach taken to ensure that we can get back to doing our jobs by July 19 in the same, safe way we did last summer, in order to ensure their survival.”
Speaking on behalf of the entertainment industry, musician Brendan Farrell told of colleagues in the industry whose livelihoods have been decimated and who have had to sell instruments and equipment in order to survive and alluded to the negative effect the sustained lockdown was having on the mental wellbeing of musicians and artists. He questioned the reasoning behind why the entertainment industry was being left until the very last for reopening.
“Musicians and artists need to work. Surely there is a safe way to get musicians back to work and combine music with socialising, if punters commit to being responsible and staying in their seats?” Farrell said.
Independent Councillor Mark Duffy also spoke at the protest and insisted that the government must trust the hospitality sector to protect their customers in a safe environment, noting that Ireland has had one of the longest, most strict lockdowns of any country in the world.

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