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Kill Busking And You Kill The Soul Of Dublin – So These Bye-Laws Need To Be Stopped

By niallharbison

December 20, 2016 at 12:10am


One of my favourite days in Dublin is a Sunday. My routine involves brunch around the George's Street area, following by a nice coffee and a walk up Grafton Street to buy some books in Dubray

The soundtrack to that day is often provided by the musicians on Grafton Street. I'll stop with the crowds and take in the performances and people-watch for 30 minutes. We all enjoy a city in many different ways but for me tapping my foot along to The Riptide Movement, Keywest or a couple of kids with their guitars is bliss. 

I'm not the only one who enjoys the live music on our streets – as the regular huge crowds prove – and they include people from all walks of life, a large majority of whom appear to be tourists. 

Having said all this music as we know it on the streets of Dublin could be about to disappear forever...

Popular buskers Keywest are leading the campaign

A public consultation is underway, running until this Friday at midday, and in response the buskers have set up a site to encourage the public to push back on new bye-laws

The laws are likely to clamp down on buskers, restrict them to certain areas and ban all amplification – essentially it's an attempt to regulate one of the most creative and spontaneous art forms in the city. 

The campaign claims that the city will be turned into one great big open air shopping centre, and I tend to agree especially when you see the plans for the College Green area.

Rather than focusing on what Dublin is great at (music, craic, exuberance) this plan is clearly the product of consultants' work aimed at increasing foot fall to large retailers and ripping the soul out of our city centre. 

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Obviously some street performers are painfully brutal and lower the tone of the area to block access to businesses – but I'd argue that these are in a minority, and that the good performers attract crowds to the city centre that would not normally be there. 

Not directly; I know that nobody comes in just to watch buskers. But indirectly, by giving the city an atmosphere that you just can't get in Dundrum or Blanch shopping centres.

And then you have the tourists taking photos and videos of the performers, sharing them to their social media and painting a wonderful picture of Ireland to their friends back home. 

For many talented (and brave) young musicians the street can be their break through. Their first place to play in front of a live audience and the punters vote with their feet anyway in a natural selection process. Why the need for forms, regulation and painful bureaucracy being foisted on the most creative in our city?

If busking on the streets is good enough for David Gray, Glenn Hansard, Ed Sheeran and the mighty Bono himself then surely we need to push back as the people on an issue like this and support creativity. 

If you agree support the performers by filling this in. If you don't, have a go at me in the comments which is the usual way to balance things out. 

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