A new committee has been established to deal with public concerns regarding the Electric Picnic.
And in the long worn tradition of so many Irish committees and organisations it almost got off to that most infamous of starts…with a split!
A request for the elected reps on Laois County Council to have a more formal and direct role in the oversight and licencing process of the popular festival was sought in the aftermath of last year’s event.
The initiative was taken by Cllr Aisling Moran who expressed concerns around health and safety, crowd control, security, services and the sustainability of the Stradbally based festival.
Cllr Moran and others sought greater accountability and input to the licencing process by the local authority. This was regarded as even more urgent in view of the increased capacity being projected for the Electric Picnic in 2020.
In response the Council have moved to establish a new Public Events Committee which will facilitate the elected members in addressing their concerns.
The new Director of Services for Planning, Mr Joe Delaney pointed out that the Committee would apply itself to events which required a licence from the Council to operate, open air events with a capacity in excess of 5,000 people. At present he said this would only apply to the Ploughing Championships and the Electric Picnic for instances.
He said it was to allow the councillors to provide feedback and to engage with the organisers.
At a previous meeting it was agreed that Cllrs Ben Brennan, Paschal Mc Evoy and Aisling Moran to liaise with the promoters of the Electric Picnic along with local authority officials.
Chairman, Cllr Willie Aird explained that it was now felt that such a committee should be put on a more formal footing and include members from all three electoral areas in the interest of balanced countywide representation. The three original nominees are all councillors from the same Portarlington-Graiguecullen electoral district.
Cllr Aird sought two other nominees, one each from the remaining districts. Cllr James Kelly and Thomasina Connell’s names were put forward.
However, Cllrs Connell and Moran wanted further clarification and looked to have the matter deferred. They were suspicious that they were being side-lined in some way on this new shadow committee, when there was already a liaison mechanism with the Electric Picnic management and other stakeholders already in place.
“Why this new committee for licensed events? I’d like to have this deferred and clarified. What else is going on? Is there another committee that we’re not on,” queried Cllr Thomasina Connell.
Cllr Aird said the Council were merely responding to the previous concerns around the allocation of additional tickets and increased capacity, nothing more.
“Is this an attempt to keep us off the Electric Picnic committee and just to divert us,” challenged Cllr Moran, still not entirely comfortable with this new arrangement on offer.
“Look, there are already meetings set up by the planners with the Electric Picnic people and let’s meet them and see,” intervened Cllr Paschal Mc Evoy as honest broker. And that’s where the matter rests for now.