Sinn Féin Councillor Martin Kenny has criticised the fact that Gardaí are now charging to police community festivals and sporting events across the country, including events in Leitrim, where large sums are being requested from festival committees.
Sinn Féin has also announced that they are to publish legislation, to amend Section 30 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 to exclude local community festivals and events from being subject to charges for policing services. Sinn Féin will introduce this Bill to the Dáil as soon as possible.
Cllr Kenny said, “It is not acceptable that local community, voluntary and charity groups are expected to foot the bill for policing services at events and festivals. Recently the Gardaí have sought large sums of money from local festival committees in Leitrim for the provision of security during events where temporary road diversions were required.
“There seems to be no understanding of the real pressure rural towns are experiencing as most struggle to survive and hold out hope that a festival might bring a short boost.
“Sinn Féin supports the work of these community groups and will seek to protect them from these exorbitant charges by bringing forward legislation to amend Section 30 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 to exclude local community festivals and events from being subject to such charges.”
Cllr Kenny pointed out that, “These committees are made up of hardworking volunteers who plan and organise events and festivals to benefit local communities and businesses. These groups often have to fundraise to make such events happen and to require them to pay for the work of the Gardaí on top of this is unfair. Charity events, shows and annual parish festivals are the lifeblood of rural communities. Such events encourage tourism and contribute to community spirit.
“It is vital that these events are supported by Government, as opposed to being made pay for the effects of cutbacks to Garda resources. I understand the policy of charging for Garda security was introduced in 2005, citing major rock concerts and other events which generate huge revenue for promoters as examples, but not rural town festivals. The Gardaí received a total of €4.7 million in 2014 for policing all sorts of events including sporting events and community festivals.
“The intention of the Sinn Féin Bill is to provide that clear assurance and we look forward to the support of all the TD’s representing rural Ireland, when it comes before the Dáil,” concluded Cllr Kenny.