Buskers want full hearing but councillor disagrees

by Gazette Reporter
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A ROW has erupted this week between the Dublin Street Performers Organisation (DSPO) and Cllr Mannix Flynn (Ind), who has labelled the group as “arrogant” for their stance on busking bylaws, particularly on the issue of amplification which has been a bone of contention for both Dublin City Council and the city’s buskers in recent months.
Cezar Habeanu, chairman of DSPO, mostly welcomes the changes introduced by the council but has criticised their handling of the bylaws.
He said: “We welcome most of the rules and we sent our thoughts and amendments regarding the bylaws which we think need tweaking.”
Habenau’s primary concern is that excessive number of street performers which, due to increasing demand for performance space on the streets, need regulation.
“Due to the increasing number of buskers that Dublin faced in the past two years, a set of rules and code of conduct were really needed in order to regulate busking. The issue was that some of the rules introduced in April could not be applied in reality, due to a lack of research.”
Cllr Flynn has remained unapologetic for his view on banning amplification and has accused the DSPO of disrespecting those who have to work and live in the areas where they are performing.
He told City Gazette: “There just seems to be a belligerence and a sense of entitlement that individuals can enter on to the street and have absolutely no regard for others in the public domain.”
While Cllr Flynn – an advocate for the arts – and Habeanu both agree that busking is an integral part of the city’s culture, their views differ regarding the necessity for amplification.
Cllr Flynn said: “Basically, you couldn’t walk up Grafton Street because it was so loud, and there were too many crowds – certain buskers monopolise the situation.
“You might walk through the area and hear music and think that’s very nice and it’s a nice atmosphere, but if you don’t live and work in the area then you don’t have to put up with the noise levels on a daily basis, and they [street performers] need to wake up to these facts.”
When asked about complaints from shop owners, Habeanu told City Gazette: “Shop owners on Grafton Street have been complaining about buskers before amplifiers even became popular and everyone was playing acoustically.
“The main reason a lot of shops want buskers out of Grafton Street is because musicians are perceived as competition to their businesses.”
While Flynn and the businesses have been vocal about the disturbance caused by the excessive volume, the DSPO claim that they attract tourists and shoppers to the area, thus increasing footfall and spending.
Cllr Flynn said that busking had long done the same in terms of attracting visitors without amplification, and he condemned the buskers for their “point-blank refusal” to see the issue from the perspective of others.
Although both parties have expressed the need for regulation, their differing views on the nature of performances is divisive.
Cllr Flynn said: “For the first time in the history of the council, buskers have rights, but we need to give everybody a chance.”
One thing they both agree on is that regulations need to be in place to control the huge numbers of street performers in the city and to preserve the unique cultural heritage of busking that Dublin is renowned for.

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