There were heated exchanges at City Hall on Monday evening as it was announced that busking bye-laws would sent out for public consultation, discussed, and debated again.
Bye-laws were agreed last May by the council which would regulate busking in the city, following complaints about noise levels and crowding caused by people gathering to watch performances.
Under the plan approved, buskers would not have be permitted to use amplification until after 6pm. Young performers, under the age of 16, would have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. In addition, ‘circle acts’ would not have be allowed to perform on the main thoroughfare until after 6pm.
However, director of services at the Galway City Council, Tom Connell, informed the chamber that following legal consultation, the bye-laws had to be shelved after it was found that no commence date was agreed.
Mr Connell said; “We must commence the process again and we will be coming back again on busking bye-laws in the first quarter of this year. We were under the impression the bye-laws were in order. We have had legal advice and we must do the public consultation again. But the work which has been done [on the bye-laws] has not been lost.”
Many councillors in the chamber responded, airing their frustrations.
Fianna Fáil councillor Ollie Crowe described the process as “a shambles”. He said; “Busking is one of the divisive issues. Ratepayers are sick to their teeth. The manager said it was good to go. As public representative we are held accountable but managers here are not.”
Fine Gael councillor Pearce Flannery said; “The number of man hours that has been spent on this [bye-laws] is outrageous. There is something seriously wrong that we went to a debate [on the busking bye-laws that were not correct]. It is completely wrong.”
Galway city east councillor Mike Crowe questioned whether if other bye-laws were in doubt as they had followed the same procedure as they had done with the busking bye-laws.
Cllr Crowe said; “There is something seriously wrong that we are coming back again. We all regret where we are at. But I have to ask who dropped the ball? Where did it happen? Does this mean our other bye-laws are in doubt as they followed a similar pattern?
Mr Connell responded to the councillors’ concerns, apologising for the oversight. “I apologise we have to go back out [and commence the process again]. I have no problem with that. I was under the impression it was all under order. But we got legal advice as is proper before they went out [and the error was spotted].
“The commencement date was not in the busking bye-laws and that was the error was made. That was not the issue with other bye-laws [that have been passed in this chamber].”