City council votes to keep amps as busker by-laws are passed
The capital's first-ever busking by-laws were passed last night, without a ban on amplification, by Dublin City Council (DCC) after 80 minutes of debate.
The by-laws will now come into force in March and there will be no ban on amplification anywhere in the city despite hundreds of requests from residents and workers in the capital to enforce such a ban.
The regulations were passed with 35 councillors supporting them and 17 against. There were no abstentions but there were a number of councillors absent for the vote.
In the final draft of the by-laws, busking is now completely banned around the area of the GPO - that will include parts of Henry Street, O'Connell Street and Prince's Street North.
And street performers are also prohibited from performing anywhere on East Essex Street and from the junction at Eustace Street to the junction at Fownes Street, all in Temple Bar.
Buskers will now have to display a permit when performing in the capital which will cost them €30 without amplification and €60 with it.
The only restriction on noise levels is a limit of 80 decibels, and in Temple Bar that has been lowered to 75 decibels. The level of a normal conversation is approximately 75 decibels.
Fianna Fail councillor David Costello said the decibel limit was "pointless" because a noise level is measured, by taking the distance between the counter and the performer, into account.
Fine Gael councillors proposed that amplification be banned outright in the capital but the amendment was defeated. The Green Party representatives called for a ban on amplification just in the Temple Bar area - this was also rejected.
"The reasonable compromise is to take Temple Bar as a huge residential area and ban amplification there," said Green Party councillor Ciaran Cuffe.
Meanwhile, Independent councillor Mannix Flynn asked that amplification be banned temporarily and the by-laws be reviewed in six months.
"There should be a temporary ban on amplification for six months to give us time to look at the issue. You must listen to the people out there who took the time to write in. I've dealt with a huge amount of people leaving their home and their workplace and facing into this noise," he said.
Aside from the amendment of lowering the decibel level in Temple Bar, any other change last night would have meant that the by-laws would have had to go back for public consultation - a process that would take a number of months.
The news comes after 88 submissions were made to the council, with the majority of them relating to the excessive noise created by buskers - 44pc asked for an outright ban on amplifiers.
Just 17pc of submissions asked that the noise level be restricted - as was the position taken by the council in the final by-laws.
A number of employees from An Post last week lobbied for a ban on the use of amplifiers as did the Provost of Trinity College, Patrick Prendergast.
When the by-laws come into effect there will be a patrol officer from DCC monitoring street performers "all the time," with the assistance of An Garda Siochana, said Labour councillor Mary Freehill.
Across the capital there is a time limit on busking and all performances must end by 11pm at night.
The by-laws will be reviewed six months after they have come into force, in either September or October.
Paddy Cullivan: Page 15