15 Aug 2022

Electric Picnic Update: No advice yet from HSE on license application for 70,000 at festival

electric Picnic

Electric Picnic Update: No advice yet from HSE on license application for 70,000 at festival

Laois County Council have not yet received advice requested from the Health Service Executive (HSE) or NPHET in deciding on granting a licence to hold a 70,000 capacity Electric Picnic in Stradbally.

The Council CEO John Mulholland has also agreed with a proposal tabled by Cllr Paschal McEvoy that calls on NPHET to give an urgent recommendation to Government on festivals and large gatherings.

“There is very little I can say as this is a live licence application,” Mr Mulholland told councillors this week.

“I normally wouldn't respond but in this instance it's proper to reflect that there is a greater public concern and national concern for public health,” the CEO told the council meeting on Monday.

“I hear the concerns and actually I agree with the notice of motion because I do think the HSE through NPHET should provide a little bit more information and clarity for people to be able to recommend to us, the proper road to take. The HSE are still to respond to us in relation to their recommendation and that is the key consideration.

“No one should assume that there isn't an acknowledgement of people's state of mind in the county or locality,” the council CEO said.

“We will let it go through the statutory process, we want to make sure we do it in accordance with the law,” Mr Mulholland added.

Councillors were unanimous at the July 26 meeting in support of Cllr McEvoy's motion.

Cllr McEvoy said that Stradbally people are afraid of further deaths.

“Their mental health is suffering. Hand on heart, they are absolutely petrified that this is going to come and it's going to kill them.

“Every day I am getting calls from people who are absolutely terrified it will go ahead.

“With the uncertainty around Covid at the moment, it's going in the wrong direction for any festival in any shape or form.

“Last February in Stradbally our nursing home got hit with Covid and 55 patients got it and 20 of them died. That is still very raw with people. 45 of the staff got Covid there and the other staff had to move into the nursing home and live in so that the patients were looked after. Without that where would we have been?

“Now they're handed this massive problem and nobody seems to be coming up with an answer.

“Festival Republic are ploughing ahead as if it's going to happen. It's going to cause a lot of problems for the people of Stradbally and of Ireland. To bring 70,000 people for four days is absolutely crazy.

“At the moment if you went in there to eat a sandwich I've to show my cert and a number and that's fair, it's right. But to think in eight weeks they'd bring 70,000 people is absolute madness.

“There's 68% of people vaccinated now, 32% aren't. And of those 32% you can be sure most of those are the people that will be attending,” Cllr McEvoy said.

Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley was among all 17 councillors at the meeting in support.

“The ploughing championships had the courage in the very early stages not to go ahead. There's people can't go ahead with their wedding and families having to pick how many people can go into the church to see loved ones being buried, and here's this crowd wants to bring up to 70,000 into the county,” she said.

Cllr Willie Aird wants councillors to sign a petition showing their “total opposition”.

Electric Picnic is due to take place from September 24 to 26. The organisers have told the council in their plan that they would agree a Covid-19 plan with the health authorities in line with the guidelines that apply when the event takes place.

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