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Electric Picnic organiser confident festival will go ahead in September

The organiser of Ireland’s largest music festival, Electric Picnic, has expressed confidence that it will get the go-ahead this year.

anaging director of Festival Republic Melvin Benn said he based his optimism on the fact no-one in Government had told him the event in Stradbally, Co Laois, would not be allowed.

However, Minister for Culture Catherine Martin insisted no decision has yet been made on Electric Picnic.

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Covid-19 rules currently limit numbers at the majority of organised outdoor events to 500 at venues with capacity in excess of 5,000.

While a number of test events have been staged, Ireland’s live music and entertainment sector remains effectively closed down due to coronavirus regulations.

100% fully expecting the Electric Picnic to be going ahead on the basis that 100% nobody has told me I won’t be able toMevlin Benn

However, the organisers of Electric Picnic hope the festival can go ahead at the end of September with 70,000 attendees, with entry conditions including proof of vaccination or of having already recovered from the virus.

Last year’s festival was cancelled due to the pandemic.

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Tickets bought back then remain valid for the rescheduled event and 90% have already been sold.

Mr Benn told RTE Radio One: “100% fully expecting the Electric Picnic to be going ahead on the basis that 100% nobody has told me I won’t be able to and the speed of vaccination rollout in Ireland, if it was submitted to the Tokyo Olympics, would win gold.

“We are very confident that it would happen.”

He added: “I’m investing and all of the teams are investing in the effort to try and make sure that the Picnic can happen by presuming that we are going ahead and I’m saying ‘presuming’ that we are going ahead, because let’s be 100% clear here, nobody’s told me I can’t go ahead.”

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The organiser of Electric Picnic has said he is confident the event will go ahead this year(Niall Carson/PA)

Last week, the promoters and organisers wrote to members of the Government outlining proposals for staging the event with various Covid safety measures in place.

Mr Benn added: “I guess the status is very straightforward from my point of view, which is that I am very actively undertaking the planning of Electric Picnic.

“Because I very actively believe that the Electric Picnic will take place and I say that because I can’t see any reason at this point in time why it wouldn’t take place at the end of September.

“We are two months away from it.”

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Catherine Martin is working with colleagues on the situation, a spokesman said (Maxwells/PA)

A spokesperson for Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin said: “The minister has received the request from the organisers of Electric Picnic, however, no decision has yet been made on the issue.

“Minister Martin is working with her Cabinet colleagues to provide certainty for the sector around a reopening plan at the earliest possible date.

“To this end, and following the opening of indoor hospitality which she has led on with Tanaiste, Leo Varadkar, she has written to the Minister for Health and the Expert Working Group on Rapid Testing to establish if the Digital Covid Certificate, PCR testing and/or Antigen testing could play a role in the reopening of the live entertainment sector.

“In launching The Path Ahead the Government confirmed its commitment to developing a clear roadmap for a return of activities in the hardest hit sectors, including culture and arts.

“Government has already taken significant steps towards the full reopening of the economy and society, building on the acceleration in the vaccine roll-out.

“The minister will be working with Government colleagues, throughout August to chart a clear roadmap for the reopening of the sector.”

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