Sale of Tickets (Cultural, Entertainment, Recreational and Sporting Events) Bill 2021: Second Stage

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

This legislation bans ticket touting and the reselling of tickets for large events above face value. It will promote fair access for fans to cultural, entertainment, recreational and sporting events. We all look forward to a time when we will be able to attend a show, a concert or a match again. While no events are being held at present due to Covid-19, we need to prepare for what could be a high demand for tickets for events once reopening becomes possible. We do not want to see fans taken advantage of due to a limitation on attendance numbers. We are all too familiar from past experience with fans waiting patiently to buy tickets at 9 a.m. only to be disappointed to see those same tickets minutes later on a secondary website for far more than they can afford. This is not pricing dictated by artists, sportsmen or sportswomen or events organisers.

It is being dictated by the systematic purchasing of tickets by touts and secondary resellers, seeking to make a profit without doing any real work. A public consultation on ticket resale in 2017 and subsequent discussions with stakeholders showed widespread, although not universal, support for legislation along the lines contained in this Bill. A statutory ban on the resale of tickets above their face value was supported by two of the three main sporting bodies, the GAA and the FAI, and the two main event promoters in the country, Aiken Promotions and MCD Live Nation, the Consumers Association of Ireland as well as many public representatives and consumers. As has been seen in the press, many leading artists and entertainers have also expressed their disapproval of the secondary ticket market, made much worse now that it has gone digital. Opposition to a price cap at the time came mainly from primary ticket service providers and secondary ticket platforms.

At that time, one of the largest primary sellers was also in the market of resale. However, in 2018, Ticketmaster announced that it was closing its secondary resale websites, Seatwave and Get Me In, and would launch a fan-to-fan ticket exchange in which tickets could be resold for no more than their original price. The fan exchange was launched in 2019 and facilitates people who cannot attend events to transfer their tickets and recoup their costs, but not make a profit. While commercial considerations no doubt played a part in Ticketmaster’s decision, it was also a response to the growing resentment from fans, consumers, sporting bodies, promoters and entertainers to the secondary ticket market.

Members of the Oireachtas have been active on this issue for some years. In 2017, the former Deputy, Noel Rock, and the current Minister for Health, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, introduced a cross-party Private Members’ Bill seeking the prohibition of above-cost ticket touting, and later that year Deputy Quinlivan introduced his Bill. In 2018, the Government made the decision to support the Bill from Deputy Stephen Donnelly and the former Deputy, Noel Rock, on Second Stage and approved the drafting of some amendments to the Bill. Unfortunately, the Bill lapsed upon the dissolution of the 32nd Dáil. Although the Bill before the House differs from the previous Bill in a number of respects, it has the same objective - to see fans treated fairly. I regret that it has taken so long to bring the Government's Bill before the House, but I hope we can progress it quickly through the Houses and enact it in line with the reopening of the economy.

The Bill prohibits the sale or advertising for sale of tickets for a price exceeding the original sale price for designated events or events taking place in designated venues that have a capacity of 1,000 people or more. The Bill’s application will be limited to those events that give rise to significant demand or where it would otherwise be in the public interest to prohibit above original sale value resale. Designation will also make the task of monitoring and enforcing the legislation more effective because it will apply to either a particular individual event or a list of venues contained in a register. In line with a commitment given by the Government to UEFA, the Bill will also prohibit the unauthorised sale of tickets for matches during Euro 2020. While the matches are not now going ahead in Dublin, the undertaking given by the Government to UEFA was not restricted to matches to be held here. It is important that the Government honour commitments given to international sporting bodies as part of a bid to host major events here.

I will now turn to the 27 sections of the Bill and set out what each seeks to achieve. Sections 1 to 6, inclusive, contain the definitions of the terms that feature in the Bill along with standard provisions on commencement, expenses, regulations, the service of documents and the application of the Act. Section 2 includes clarification in the definition of venue operator which, we believe, meets two of the recommendations in the pre-legislative scrutiny report from the Oireachtas joint committee. This section also now includes a definition of ticket package in line with a further recommendation in the pre-legislative scrutiny report.

Section 7 provides that a venue operator can make a written application to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment to have a venue designated if it has the capacity to hold 1,000 or more and the applicant is of the reasonable opinion that the events in the venue may give rise to the resale of tickets or ticket packages for a price exceeding their original sale price. This latter requirement meets one of the recommendations in the pre-legislative scrutiny report. The Minister may designate the venue where he or she is satisfied that the application satisfies the conditions for designation or may refuse to designate where he or she is not so satisfied. The Minister will also have a reserve power to designate venues, including those with a capacity of fewer than 1,000, subject to certain criteria.

Section 8 provides that the Minister may revoke a venue designation where he or she is no longer satisfied that the conditions for designation are met or where the venue is no longer in operation or has ceased to hold events. It further specifies the requirements for the notification by the Minister of a refusal or revocation of a designation and provides that the venue applicant or operator may make representations under section 12, and an appeal under section 13, against such a revocation or refusal, or in the case of a refusal for venue designation, may apply instead for the designation of an event under section 9.

Section 9 provides that an event organiser or venue operator may apply to the Minister to have an event designated for the purposes of the Act if, having regard to the nature of the event, the applicant is of the reasonable opinion that it may give rise to the sale of tickets by a secondary ticket seller for a price exceeding the original sale price. An application may be made for the designation of an event which takes place on an annual or other periodic basis in the same venue. The Minister may designate an event where he or she is satisfied that the application satisfies the conditions for designation or may refuse to designate an event where he or she is not so satisfied. Subject to specified conditions, the section also permits the Minister, after consultation with the event organiser or venue operator, to designate an event that has not been the subject of an application for designation.

Section 10 provides that the Minister may revoke the designation of an event where he or she is no longer satisfied that the conditions for designation are met. The section also sets out the requirements for the notification by the Minister of a refusal or revocation of a designation, and provides that the event applicant, event organiser or venue operator may make representations under section 12 and an appeal under section 13 against such a revocation or refusal.

Section 11 provides that where the Minister makes or revokes a venue or event designation, notification of the making or revocation of the designation will be published in Iris Oifigiúil and information made publicly available in other appropriate ways with specified details of the designation or revocation.

Section 12 provides that an applicant, event organiser or venue operator may make representations to the Minister within 14 days of being notified of a proposed refusal or revocation of a venue or event designation. The Minister shall have regard to any such representations in deciding whether to proceed with the refusal or revocation of a designation. The Minister must notify the venue operator or event organiser in writing of the decision and, unless an appeal is brought, the revocation will come into effect 28 days from the notification.

Section 13 provides that an appeal can be made to the District Court against the refusal or revocation of a venue or event designation or against a designation made by the Minister, where no application was made by the venue operator or event organiser.

Section 14 provides that the Minister shall establish and maintain a register of designated events and venues, and shall publish it on the Internet or in another appropriate manner.

Section 15 provides that a secondary ticket seller who sells, or advertises for sale, a ticket or ticket package for an event in a designated venue or a designated event for a price exceeding the original sale price is guilty of an offence.

Section 16 provides that a primary ticket seller shall not sell, or advertise for sale, a ticket or ticket package for an event in a designated venue or a designated event without providing information that the ticket or ticket package is for such an event and that its sale for a price exceeding the original sale price is prohibited. A primary ticket seller who sells or advertises for sale a ticket or ticket package in contravention of the section is guilty of an offence.

Section 17 provides that a secondary ticket seller shall not advertise or offer for sale on a secondary ticket marketplace a ticket or ticket package for an event in a designated venue or a designated event without providing information on the original sale price of the ticket and the location of the seat or standing area to which the ticket entitles the holder to gain admission. The section also requires the operator of a secondary ticket marketplace to ensure that a ticket or ticket package is not advertised or offered for sale on its marketplace without the secondary ticket seller providing this information. A primary ticket seller or secondary ticket operator who contravenes the section is guilty of an offence.

Section 18 provides that sections 15 to 17 will not apply to the sale, or advertising for sale, of a ticket or ticket package by or on behalf of a charitable organisation or amateur sports club if its sale has been approved by an event organiser and the proceeds of the sale are used only to fund the activities of the charitable organisation or sports club.

Section 19 provides that a term in a contract between a primary ticket seller and another person shall be void insofar as it excludes or limits the transfer of a ticket or ticket package for no monetary consideration or its sale for a price not exceeding the original sale price. The section does not apply to a term in a contract for the sale of a ticket or ticket package for EURO 2020 or for an event which excludes or limits the transfer or sale of a ticket or ticket package on the grounds of safety, public health or public order. It provides that nothing in the section shall prevent or limit an event organiser from enforcing a term in a contract for the sale of a ticket or ticket package that prohibits the sale of the ticket or ticket package for a price exceeding the original sale price.

Section 20 provides that a secondary ticket seller who sells, or advertises for sale, a ticket or ticket package for a match or official event in the EURO 2020 championship without written authorisation from UEFA is guilty of an offence.

Section 21 provides for the powers of entry and search, and of examination, seizure and retention of evidence, of a member of An Garda Síochána who has reasonable grounds for believing that the person is committing, or has committed, an offence under the Act, or that evidence relating to such an offence may be found in a place. It further requires persons at, or in charge of, such a place to provide such assistance and information, and produce such books, records or other documents, as a member of An Garda Síochána may reasonably require for the purposes of his or her functions under the Act. The section further provides that a member of An Garda Síochána shall not enter a dwelling other than with the consent of the occupier or in accordance with a warrant issued by a District Court judge and specifies the requirements for the issuing of such warrants.

Section 22 provides that a person is guilty of an offence if he or she obstructs or interferes with a member of An Garda Síochána exercising a power conferred by the Act or a warrant issued under it or impedes the exercise by the member of such power. It further provides that a person commits an offence if he or she fails or refuses to comply with a request or a requirement under section 21 or provides false or misleading information in respect of such a request or requirement.

Section 23 provides that where a member of An Garda Síochána finds a person committing an offence under section 15 or 20 of the Act, the member may arrest that person without warrant and demand his or her name and address. The person who fails or refuses to give his or her name or address, or who gives a false or misleading name or address, is guilty of an offence. Section 24 sets out the penalties that apply to persons found guilty of an offence under the Act.

Section 25 provides that it is a defence for a person against whom proceedings are brought under the Act to show that he or she made all reasonable efforts to comply with the provisions of the Act alleged to have been contravened. Section 26 provides that, subject to specified conditions, it is a defence to the offences prescribed under section 15 (3), section 17(5) and section 20(2) for the operator of a secondary ticket marketplace to show that he or she was providing for a specified purpose an information society service consisting of the transmission or storage of information provided by a recipient of the service. The defences provided for in the section are based on the provisions of Articles 12 to 14, inclusive of EU directive 31 of 2000 on legal aspects of information society services, in particular e-commerce, in the Internal Market. Section 27 sets out provisions relating to the disclosure or taking of privileged legal material pursuant to the Act.

This Bill will act as a deterrent to individuals and entities that buy up tickets at the expense of sports and music fans, sporting bodies, artists and promoters. I look forward to working with the House on Committee and Report Stages, including on any amendments that may be proposed. The Bill underwent pre-legislative scrutiny by the Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment and has been adapted in light of the committee’s report. I hope, therefore, we can have cross-party support to ensure that we get this Bill enacted as soon as possible so that genuine fans are protected once we enter the summer. In the meantime, I commend the Bill to the House. Gabhaim buíochas.

I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I welcome this Bill. The Sinn Féin Party and I will be supporting this legislation and are happy to see it before the Dáil. As referred to by the Tánaiste, it is an issue that I raised in the previous Dáil but unfortunately we did not solve the problem then. As such, I welcome that we are now able to move this Bill forward, albeit four years later. While I am pleased that we are moving forward with this Bill today, it should be noted that the opportunity to deal with this issue presented itself in the 32nd Dáil. Unfortunately, intransigence from the then Government and the implementation of a money message meant that in the intervening years consumers have continued to pay the price in the absence of legislation on it.

First, the Government, supported by Fianna Fáil, after initially supporting the Bill introduced an amendment on Second Stage which delayed the Bill for nine months. I introduced this Bill in March 2017 with the aim of tackling ticket touting and to protect consumers. At every opportunity, the then Government sought to delay the Bill. Fine Gael spent the past four years talking out of both sides of its mouth on this issue, demanding an end to ticket touting while actively obstructing a solution to the problem. It was delay after delay. We are, thankfully, here today and I very much welcome the Bill that has come forward.

As the Tánaiste said, in December 2020 this issue came before the Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment, of which I am Chairman. I acknowledge the work of the committee members on the matter. There is a cross-party consensus that this is a problem that needs to be addressed. We all acknowledge the need for steps to be taken to address the issue of above-sale-price tickets and this must be done in the interests of consumers. The committee produced a report, which the previous committee had also done in 2018 and which, in fairness, was something of a waste of time, resources and effort of all involved during a pandemic.

I will make some comments on this new Bill, which I welcome and support. The basic intention of the Bill is to prohibit the sale or advertisement of tickets above selling price. It outlines the powers that can be used by An Garda Síochána and the penalties for a breach of this Bill’s provisions. It outlines information that must be provided by primary and secondary ticket sellers and allows for exemptions for charities and amateur sports, which I very much welcome. This legislation will be good for consumers and bad for ticket touts. The crux of the Bill, and of previous incarnations of it, was and is to protect consumers and fans from overpricing. This will promote fairer access to event tickets by prohibiting the sale or advertising for sale of tickets for a price exceeding the original sale price for events taking place in designated venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or more.

We are, of course, still in a period of restriction with regard to the opening of venues and I would like to acknowledge how much of a challenge this year has been not just for the venues, but for the artists, sound technicians and other supporting staff who accompany the staging of any production, concert or similarly ticketed event. I, for one, am extremely excited about the reopening of this avenue of entertainment over the coming months. It can be anticipated that on reopening after the Covid-19 period there will be an initial period of reduced capacity at such events. However, after such a period of restrictions, we can be confident that there will be a great demand for tickets to support our cultural events across the State. This will create an obvious opportunity for the resale of tickets. As such I will contend that this legislation be enacted in advance of the reopening of that section of our economy. This is another positive step forward for accountability in the sector, in particular secondary ticketing platforms.

We would all have had people coming to us over the years having been gouged with ticket sales, especially where children could not get tickets which were on sale for a vast increase in price.

Venue operators can apply for the venue to be deemed a designated venue if it has a capacity exceeding 1,000 people and-or the operator is of the opinion that the venue will hold one or more events that would give rise to the sale of tickets by a secondary ticket seller. I mention this aspect of the Bill specifically because it is important to recognise that this designation is a convenience for monitoring.

First, above-face-value resale affects a small proportion of events and it is good practice to limit regulation where it is necessary. Second, the prohibition on the above-sale-price resale can be more effectively monitored and enforced if it is employed to events in a list of known venues.

The Bill provides enforcement powers to An Garda Síochána and other relevant authorities and outlines the level of penalties that can be imposed on those who are deemed to have breached the provisions on above-sale-price selling. This sends an important signal that there will be enforcement of this legislation, which is also welcome. The range of available penalties extend to a fine of up to €100,000 and-or imprisonment for up to two years on conviction. Hopefully, we will not have to go down that line but at least there is a penalty we can use if we need to. These possible penalties and the powers granted to An Garda Síochána in respect of search and inspection powers are powerful elements of this Bill and a strong deterrent to those who might otherwise be inclined to engage in above-sale-price ticketing.

For many of us, when we think of the above-sale-price of tickets, we think of the person outside of the GAA stadium or other venues selling tickets to fans waiting outside. While this has been an issue with consumers in the past who paid over the odds for tickets outside of venues, there are more sophisticated organisations that buy tickets on release and subsequently sell them to consumers at higher prices. This is what the Bill sets out to curb and it is something I am wholly supportive of. I hope this Bill will achieve that aim.

It is important to note that there are welcome exemptions in respect of the sale or advertising of tickets or ticket packages by charitable organisations and amateur sports. We all understand how important it is for some of those groups to use tickets like that for their fundraising efforts.

This is on the condition that the sale has been approved by the event organisers and the proceeds are used for the funding of the charity or amateur sports organisation. This is an important exemption as all Members know how difficult it is for such organisations to raise funds and the exemption ensures they can continue to use the sale of tickets as a fundraising activity.

On the issue of the competition authority, there is no doubt that there is a need for such legislation. In 2018 alone, 350 complaints relating to ticket touting were lodged with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. Each of these were lodged by individual consumers who believed they had been charged excessive prices for tickets. The figure for the first half of 2019 stood at 182 complaints. Obviously, the number of complaints in 2020 is minimal as a result of the arrival of the pandemic and the closure of venues for public health reasons. We as a country have come through and are coming through a very difficult and, for many, very lonely time of restrictions. It is to be hoped that people will be eager to return to venues when the option to do so presents itself. They should not have to pay over the odds for tickets.

In conclusion, as I mentioned at the start of my remarks, I introduced a similar Bill in 2017. Although was am extremely disappointed that the then Government stymied it at the time, I will be supporting this Bill and very much welcome it. It is important that the legislation is introduced, consumers are protected and the profiteering by secondary vendors who charge excessive prices for ticket resales is stopped. The regret, of course, is that it was not done sooner. However, here we are. My party and I will be offering our full support for the Bill.

As outlined by my colleague, an Teachta Quinlivan, Sinn Féin welcomes the Bill. It has been a long time coming and, as noted by the Tánaiste and Deputy Quinlivan, there have been several attempts to get this done. It is welcome that we are having this discussion. It is regrettable that the opportunity to run with the Bill introduced by Deputy Quinlivan was not taken in the previous Dáil but, as was stated, we are where we are. Sinn Féin is not precious about solutions to this issue. We want to be constructive and work with all parties to ensure the safe and swift passage of the Bill.

I know that during the course of the debate there will be reference to fans and true fans, etc., but we should spare a thought also for parents who have to bring their kids to gigs of which they may not be fans. As presents, etc., for their kids, they are forced not just to pay over the odds for tickets for the kids, but to pay over the odds for tickets for themselves, which is incredibly cruel. Having accompanied my daughter to some quite questionable gigs while she was growing up and at which she had to have an adult with her, much and all as she did not like it, paying face value was bad enough. Having to pay more than face value would be a step too far even for the most devoted of parents. In solidarity with them, the Bill is very welcome. They now will not have to pay over the odds. It is bad enough to have to sit through a couple of hours at a particular gig - I will not name the artist because my daughter would be mortified - without knowing that you are being gouged at the same time. That just drives people up the wall.

As the Tánaiste will be aware, parts of the Bill are dated. Of course, that can be tidied up on Committee Stage. The section regarding UEFA 2020 and those games in particular reminds me, and others who have more of an interest in this than I do, of what could have been. It is a pity that those games will now be played in other host cities. I heard the Taoiseach state that the decision to withdraw the games and move them to London and Russia was out of order. However, the decision was made because the Government could not guarantee a 25% spectator attendance at the Aviva Stadium. I do not think the remarks of the Taoiseach were helpful; I think they were silly. It is not the fault of UEFA that the Government could not roll out the vaccination programme quickly enough to allow us to have the requisite level of spectators in the Lansdowne Road stadium. If one looks up the road to the North or across the Irish Sea, one will see spectators at games outdoors and at indoor sports. There was recently a full house in the Crucible to watch the World Snooker Championship final. The English league cup final had 8,000 spectators in attendance. From Monday, 17 May, stadiums in England will be allowed to operate at 25% capacity or have up to 10,000 fans. While others are getting things done, the Taoiseach simply blames other people. I do not think that is helpful or productive. It is regrettable that the UEFA games will now be held in other cities.

Nevertheless, when we work our way through the Covid crisis and get back to having attendees at live music and sporting events, this legislation will make a discernible difference. For too long, ticket touts have profiteered off ordinary supporters and fans who love music and sport. How often have we heard crazy stories of supporters having to pay hundreds of euro for a ticket to the All-Ireland final or an important football or rugby international? The same was the case every summer, when tickets for Electric Picnic and other festivals were being sold at absolutely astronomical prices. As outlined by Deputy Quinlivan, it was not the fellas standing outside the stadium asking if anyone was buying or selling tickets; these were actually very organised companies that were effectively operating as ticket touts and profiteering off people's love of music. I hope that through the implementation of the Bill we will address these issues and bring an end to these practices.

On another note, without investment in grassroots sports and cultural spaces and support for artists, we will not have any events to go to. I think that is sometimes lost on Deputies. If one goes outside this Chamber and speaks to the sporting community or to artists, they will say that the lack of support from the State is damaging their ability to develop the next generation of football, Gaelic games or rugby players and is suppressing the ability of artists to grow and develop. The State likes to pride itself on the artists who have come from here. I use that phrase very specifically because, in many ways, although they come from here, they are developed and helped to grow in London, Glasgow, Berlin and elsewhere. They leave to pursue their artistic dreams in cities and countries that will help to foster their talent and help them to flourish but, when they do flourish, then Ireland loves to claim them. The State loves a finished product that someone else helped to develop. If you are famous, we want to know all about you, but successive Governments have never wanted to invest and help them to achieve their potential and their dreams at home. Instead, the Government presides over the destruction of cultural spaces and a dearth of public spaces for the arts, music, drama and so on. Most artists who stay here and fulfil their potential will say that they do so in spite of, and not because of, the State. All the problems I have mentioned, such as a lack of creative and cultural spaces among others, are accompanied by a lack of affordable housing, poverty wages, grants that take weeks to apply for and nearly always result in a negative response and astronomical insurance costs which are a barrier for all artists, musicians, visual artists, those in drama and others in putting on shows. If we want to have gigs, festivals, theatre productions, art shows and galleries, we have to fund the creation of this brilliant art. We will pass this legislation and it will clamp down on ticket touting but if the State persists in driving artists from our towns and cities and pushing them into the arms of cities such as London, Liverpool, Berlin and Glasgow, there will be no future gigs to which to go.

The same applies in the case of football players. What does the State do? It pushes them abroad to fulfil their talent. For many decades, the failure of the FAI in the first instance and the State in the second instance to provide career pathways and top-level technical and tactical training has meant that young boys in particular have had to leave on planes or boats at 15 or 16 years of age to go to Scotland or England just to fulfil their talent and be able to make a career for themselves. Surely, given the implications of Brexit in the area of football, we can invest in order to provide for young footballers here in this State. That means that grassroots football needs to be supported to recover from decades of mismanagement at the highest level - we have had plenty of discussions about that. The same goes for rugby and Gaelic games. If we are not ensuring that these organisations and young people are funded and supported properly, there will be no ticket touts to clamp down on because there will be no worthwhile days out in Thurles, no evenings in MacHale Park, no day in the sun in Killarney or Clones, no rugby in Thomond Park or the RDS, no football in Turner's Cross, Tallaght Stadium, Finn Park or Dalymount, and there most certainly will be no big days out at Croke Park or Lansdowne Road.

If we want to have a vibrant arts culture and sporting scene, we have to fund it. It really is that simple. Too often, people look at the moneys invested but never take into account the benefit that is derived from it. How much of the funding for arts, culture and sport is repaid hand over fist when people go to an art exhibition, the cinema, the theatre, a gig in Whelan's or a football match at Tolka Park? That is before one even gets into the revenue generated from tens of thousands of people going to an All-Ireland championship match, a festival or a big gig. Funding for arts, culture and sport is an investment. It is an investment in people, communities and countless hours of enjoyment and the public who benefit from that.

I am sure the Tánaiste will agree that we all missed the arts. The last year has been absolutely awful. I had the chance to go to a socially-distanced gig in town. I went to see the comedian Tadhg Hickey, which was absolutely brilliant, but it was nearly a year ago now and is the only arts experience I have had during the past year. We really missed the arts when they were gone. We said how awful it was that we could not go to a gig and have that shared and collective experience, but the simple fact is that if we do not invest in the arts then all of the legislation to clamp down on ticket touting will not make any difference because there simply will not be those gigs to go to. We do not want to turn into a place known only for hosting big international gigs. That is brilliant and absolutely fantastic if one gets the opportunity to go, but we need to resource local and community events. If we do not ensure we have cultural spaces, truly public spaces, such as municipal sporting stadiums that can host football and include a library, studios, crèches and gyms, and provide a truly public utility, there will be no gigs or events worth going to.

As outlined by my colleague, I reiterate that we will support this legislation. It is regrettable that it has taken this long, but it has. It behoves all of us to ensure we get this legislation through quickly so that it can be implemented quickly and we can take money from the ticket touts. They do not deserve that hard-earned money. As the Tánaiste outlined, none of that money goes to artists, sound engineers, or the people checking tickets, doing security, cleaning venues and putting up and taking down the rigs. They do not benefit at all. A very small number of people benefit. I absolutely welcome this legislation and Sinn Féin will work to ensure its swift passage.

I greatly appreciate the opportunity to speak on this vitally important legislation. I thank the Tánaiste for speaking on it. In preparation for this debate I looked at a very old picture of a fresh-faced Deputy Denis Naughten with my predecessor, as Deputy for my constituency, Alan Shatter, preparing legislation in this area; that was not today or yesterday. I pay particular credit to our colleague, former Deputy Noel Rock, who spent so much time and effort in the last Dáil on this legislation along with the current Minister for Health. I share with Deputy O'Reilly the sheer despondency of not getting to a match or gig for so long. Many of us are already dreaming of the day, hopefully not too far away, when we return to our favourite venue or stadium to enjoy the experience of sport, arts and culture. It really is a lived experience. No matter what the efforts of the television companies and very inventive artists online have been, nothing compares to being there.

Crucially, being there has to mean something - it should mean being open to everyone. It should not be simply thrown to the wolves and to people who can bid the highest or take the opportunity to play on the emotional attachment of so many people to their team or artist. I have been going to Ireland rugby matches since 1991. When England came over, there were always tales of tickets selling for €1,500 or €2,000. It always made me sick to the stomach that someone could put a price on the hours I put in at my club, be it coaching mini-rugby or washing jerseys or whatever else. A price cannot be put on that commitment to a chosen sport or activity. That is why this legislation is so important.

I will point out a couple of things within the legislation about which I hope we will potentially see a little more clarity on Committee Stage. I fear, to use a horrible phrase, there may be some unintended consequences. I refer to Part 3, section 18, which provides an exemption to the ban on reselling tickets over the original price when the sale of a ticket is on behalf of a charitable organisation or an amateur sports club, as well as an exemption to the requirement to provide information on the original sale price of said ticket. We need to ensure the definition and clarity is in this legislation because the last thing we want is a GAA, rugby or soccer club finding itself breaking the law because it is holding a fundraising raffle or is trying to get in some much-needed funds to build up the grassroots of the sport. That clarity is so important.

It is certainly the experience of my club and many clubs within my constituency that they rely on ticket sales, be they for international or inter-provincial games, and the goodwill of the national governing bodies of their sports to ensure they can roll those tickets out. I want to make sure those rights are protected and that the many grey areas surrounding this are boxed off to ensure they do not have a negative impact. We need to have balance regarding local and community sports. No fan should ever have to pay twice or even five times the cost of a ticket to see a match or concert, but we have to acknowledge the important role ticket sales play within our sporting organisations.

As I said, I really look forward to getting back to the Royal Dublin Society, RDS, the Aviva stadium, Croke Park or wherever it may be, hopefully this summer or very soon. I use the opportunity of the Tánaiste's presence in the House to underline the importance of looking with an ambitious eye on how we can get fans back to matches, concerts, festivals and events, not just in the coming months or throughout the summer, but possibly in the coming weeks. We should look at the ambitious and sensible proposals from various sporting bodies to do trial runs. We have heard the news, announced today, that Northern Ireland will allow a thousand fans attend matches. We have all seen the experimental concerts in Barcelona and how many fans will be able to get to the Champions League final and to Wembley.

It is so important we use this time to ensure we get people back, because I absolutely hope and aspire to be at a fully attended Ireland rugby match in November in the Aviva stadium. I look forward to that, as many of us do. I look forward to ensuring tickets are available through all the streams and no fans get ripped off, that we have a mechanism where clubs and community organisations can use these vital tickets to ensure the next generation is supported and to ensure community roll out and that fans have a safe and proper way to resell tickets if they cannot go to an event. Not everyone who resells a ticket is looking to make a fast buck or profit; many people may be season ticket holders. There are plenty of examples of websites where tickets can be sold on or where ticket exchanges can take place.

We have to ensure that this legislation protects the rights of fans and that we do not have any empty seats at sold-out matches or concerts. We must ensure that the lived fan experience is just as important as ever. Sport, in particular, as well as culture, music and the arts, goes to very fabric of this country. We come together so well when we have that collective support, whether it is for a national, county or provincial team. It is so important that we ensure those tickets are there, that people can access them, that they are affordable and do not become the playthings of corporate entities and are not abused and that we retain the ability to ensure there are no empty seats.

That is why this legislation is so welcome. I am so grateful that the Tánaiste has brought it forward and I look forward to working with him and the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Troy, as this goes through the various Stages in the House. We have to make sure we put fans, spectators and people who have committed their adult lives to their chosen sport, art or cultural passion at the very heart of this legislation, and that there are no unintended consequences detrimental to their involvement and engagement. This legislation is long overdue and extremely welcome. I commend the Tánaiste on bringing it to the House.

I apologise for my late arrival. I appreciate the Leas-Cheann Comhairle has facilitated my speaking slot. Deputy Richmond decided to walk to the convention centre rather get a lift with me, which would probably be illegal anyway, so he was here before me.

This Bill is welcomed by the Labour Party. We can all appreciate the burden carried by the events industry and the workers in it, particularly those involved in music, arts, cultural festivals and large sporting events over the last 14 months. If we are lucky and reach a high vaccination rate, I hope we will see a return to being able to go to gigs, matches, shows and theatres, which we have missed so much, as soon as we possibly can. The human need to get together in celebration of life itself through events of all shapes and sizes, whether these are sport, music, art, performance or festivals, has never been more apparent. We miss it and its value has never been more keenly felt.

In that context, this Bill is as important as ever. The Bill looks to address the blatant exploitation by ticket touts, middle men and online scalpers of the huge demand for sporting, artistic and cultural events to drive huge profits into their own pockets well beyond any work they have done to earn the money.

It is a classic example of where unfettered market rules disadvantage ordinary people, act as a drain on society and need to be curtailed for the common good. The pre-Internet days were bad enough for ordinary fans who could not get tickets, often being priced out of the chance of getting a second-hand ticket by the huge mark-ups charged by professional touts. Anyone who goes regularly to gigs or matches will know the feeling of being left with a spare ticket or multiple spare tickets due to the last minute backing out of a friend or group of friends from an event. You used to have to go to the ground and hope you could tell the difference between a genuine fan looking to see a match and a scalper looking to make a margin.

It was a badge of honour for ordinary fans not to sell to ticket touts but with the advent of online selling, more and more people have been sucked into the idea that buying tickets for a big event is an opportunity to make a few quid. A larger and larger proportion of tickets seem to end up being bought at a price far higher than face value. Online ticket bots and sites have become an ever larger problem with orchestrated attempts to corner whole events and then drip feed the tickets out to genuine fans, to try to extract the last penny of cash far above the face value of the ticket.

This is unbridled capitalism in its most naked expression and I welcome the Bill from the Government. It follows on from Bills from former Deputy Noel Rock and the now Minister, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, and from Deputy Quinlivan, all of whom should be congratulated for ensuring the issue became highlighted and is now being addressed.

The other industry where we have an orchestrated drip feed of supply into a market of unsustainable prices by profit-driven monopolists is the property market. Some of the principles of fairness and capping sales prices at a sustainable level might be applied to try to solve the ongoing housing crisis in the country and to allow the property market to become one where builders are incentivised to create and build affordable homes for people and families, rather than one where speculators drive and create shortages and bubbles to exploit for maximum gain.

On the detail of the Bill, I note the Department said it had been intended to tackle the use of bot software to purchase tickets but that it now plans to implement that as part of a Bill to implement EU Directive No. 2019/2161 on the better enforcement and modernisation of Union consumer protection rules, to be submitted to Government early next year. The delay concerns me as the bot issue should be addressed urgently and to pass a Bill without bot provision could conceivably leave us longer than necessary without appropriate protection.

Within the Bill there are specific provisions for Euro 2020. Given that we are no longer hosting matches, do we need such specific provision in the legislation in the pandemic? The Bill also includes for secondary ticket markets the defence that they were providing an online service for others to comply with Directive No. 2000/31/EC on electronic commerce in the Internal Market. The concern I have is that the defence could be exploited to allow the profit of secondary platforms from this now illegal activity, based on them only supplying an information service to the people committing the crime. While it would be difficult to prevent private conversations through online and social media platforms like email, Facebook, Instagram or other services, platforms and actors could build a business model explicitly on the sale of tickets while turning a blind eye to lawbreaking and over-face-value sales and would be able to use section 26 as a defence to render the Bill ineffective and flout the law.

Many of the other provisions of the Bill seemed straightforward mechanisms for application for registration of venues and events. These designations seem reasonable, as do the provisions for arrest and the penalties. I look forward to a constructive debate and may submit amendments as needed.

A number of Bills have been put forward on ticket touting over the years. There is cross-party support on progressing this legislation, as there was in respect of previous legislation. It is welcome to see this before the House and that the Government has committed to enacting this legislation, hopefully prior to the reopening of live events.

Everyone has felt the absence of sports, music and live events in terms of normal activity over the past year or so. The industry has suffered immensely during the pandemic and has done its best at every turn to adapt to the circumstances and provide alternatives to its audiences and workers. With so much time spent at home during lockdowns, we have turned to the arts, entertainment and sports industries to see us through the monotony of days stuck indoors. It was an experience which drove home the importance of the industry, not just for employment and revenue but for the joy and excitement it brings to all our lives. Arts and culture have always been at the heart of Irish society. They are tied intrinsically to our perception of what Ireland is.

When we are lucky enough to reopen live events, there is no doubt but that there will be incredibly high demand for tickets. Given that venue capacity will be limited, there is no possibility of supply reaching demand. It will be a prime market for ticket touts. We cannot face a situation where the only people in attendance at live events are those who can pay inflated prices. Live events are already quite expensive in Ireland in comparison to other European countries and it is essential that access to the arts, sports and entertainment is available to everyone. To ensure there is no wealth barrier to accessing these events, ticket touting must be tackled.

The reality of modern-day touting is not just a seller on the street with a handful of tickets. It is an international market utilising bots to mass purchase hundreds of tickets for the most popular events the instant they go on sale. Some sellers are making millions and regular buyers do not stand a chance. True fans of artists and sporting teams miss out or pay ridiculous sums of money for the experience of watching their favourite acts or players in person, while others profit from the lack of supply they have created. Festival organisers in the UK face this problem at present with ticket touts snapping up tickets in high demand, so it is not just here. The Guardian looked at listings for festival tickets on a couple of sites and found just over a hundred tickets on sale for a combined value of £65,000. A ticket for the Creamfields festival was on sale for £800, where the face value was £100. There is a pent-up demand for live events and regulation has to be in place to tackle the inevitable exploitation of fans will be desperate to attend.

In the context of Covid, there is another element to consider, namely, contact tracing. While we have not yet worked out how the reopening of life events will work, and hopefully that will happen soon, it stands to reason we will have some contact tracing mechanisms by which live events must abide. In the UK, festival organisers are asked to keep attendees' details for 21 days after the event to assist in contact tracing. Should we have something similar? Ticket resale will make this particularly difficult.

While this Bill is aimed at ensuring consumers pay a fair price for tickets, it would be remiss to discuss it without acknowledging the hardship faced by workers in the live events and entertainment industry since March of last year. Our domestic events and entertainment industry employs around 35,000 workers, most of whom have not had an opportunity to work since March of last year. The hundreds of theatres, sports grounds, clubs, festivals and venues across the country were the first industry to shut down and, most likely, will be the last to open up.

Annually, the sector contributes something like €3.5 billion to the national economy. It is estimated that for every euro spent on a ticket, €6 is spent in the wider tourism economy. The eventual return of live sports and events will not be a boost to that sector alone but to taxis, restaurants, private bus companies, hotels and so on. That is not to mention the boost to the morale of the country when we can gather together. It will be a challenge to this sector because I have heard from people like sound engineers and those involved on a self-employed basis who have had to sell their equipment to pay the mortgage.

Some of the challenges are yet to play out. Some of the individuals affected have not received any support other than the pandemic unemployment payment, PUP, because they do not have a business premises and operate from home or from a vehicle. That will be a challenge. Consideration must be given to how people can be supported to get back to using their expertise to make a living, as many were doing for years.

The Social Democrats support the legislation but a number of areas in the Bill could be strengthened on Committee Stage. There are a wide variety of venue types and operators in the country. The definitions in the Bill must be examined more closely to provide for temporary venue structures and events with multiple venues as well as cases where the venue operator may not be the primary party in making the decision to opt in. The legislation deals primarily with secondary ticket sellers. Has an examination been done of how the Bill will impact on the behaviour of large primary ticket sellers? Regardless of who the seller is, consumers need to know the total number of tickets available for sale by a ticket provider and an accurate number of tickets remaining.

The Tánaiste dealt with Euro 2020. I did not understand why that event was still included but I now accept that it make sense given that a commitment has been made and people will still be going to the event wherever it is held.

The Government has stated that it intended to include a provision prohibiting the use of bot software to purchase tickets but withdrew it on the basis that a European directive on this matter will be introduced early this year. Does the Tánaiste have an update on when he expects the directive to be brought to the House and in what form? Will it be brought into effect before many events are expected to resume?

While this Bill will make great strides in regulating the ticket resale market, international examples have shown that there is a difficulty applying regulations to offshore platforms. We must take great care to avoid circumstances in which events open up after a long absence and ticket resale sites based offshore are able to grab large quantities of tickets using bots and sell them at inflated prices without any repercussions.

This is very welcome legislation and I hope it will pass Committee and Remaining Stages very quickly.

I wish all those who put on events well. They have had a tough time this year due to the pandemic. I look forward to going to football matches, watching bands and listening to live music again.

I welcome the legislation. As stated by Deputy Quinlivan, it is unfortunate that this Bill comes many years too late for thousands of people who have been the victims of ticket touting. I welcome that community groups, sports organisations and charities are exempted from its provisions as millions of euro are raised by genuine groups for many good causes.

Like many others, I have personal experience of the sheer frustration of missing a major event because I could not get a ticket. I attended my first all-Ireland final in 1983 when the "12 apostles" beat a spirited Galway team. I know Galway people have a different take on that team and what they would call it. If we roll on to 1995, which was the next time Dublin won an all-Ireland, I stood outside Croke Park with thousands of others trying to get tickets. There were so many people there selling handfuls of tickets at exorbitant prices. This happens at venues across a range of events in the arts, music and sport. It is deeply upsetting to see it happen. Every year since then, I have seen young people outside venues or trying to get tickets online for various events. It is frustrating to see how quickly tickets are snapped up, in particular online. I look forward to the Bill preventing that practice and allowing people to enjoy concerts at cost price.

Enforcement is a critical aspect of this legislation and, unfortunately, all other legislation. I look forward to the Garda working with people to ensure the Bill makes the difference it is intended to achieve. There is no point putting legislation in place if there is no plan or strategy to enforce it. I look forward to supporting the Bill in the House and enjoying concerts and matches in the near future.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill. Most Deputies in the House will agree that a degree of gratitude must also be extended to Deputy Quinlivan, who has long championed this cause, having introduced previous Bills on the topic to this House.

The Bill before us aims to promote fairer access to tickets for cultural, entertainment, recreational and sporting events by prohibiting the sale or advertising for sale of tickets or ticket packages at a higher price than their original sale price. This cannot come soon enough for all genuine fans of sport, music and the arts. Ticket touting has almost become an industry in itself. We have all had the experience of friends of family eagerly awaiting the 9 a.m. sale time, computer at the ready, only to miss out on securing a ticket for their chosen event. Ten minutes later, they see that links are being shared in messages and social media for tickets on sale for three times the sale price, resulting in dedicated, genuine fans sometimes missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see their favourite teams, musicians or artists live. It is vital, therefore, that the ticket touting market is eradicated for good.

Artists, musicians and sports personalities tell us that the real joy of performing or playing is being euphorically cheered on and connecting with their fans. The last thing they want to see is fans being ripped off by gougers and ticket touts. Performers, sportspersons and artists would be the first to say that everyone loses out when genuine fans are exploited, the only people who can attend events are those who can afford the extortionate prices of ticket touts and the full variety and complement of fans cannot attend. The price gouging of third parties allows them to make a greedy profit off the backs of hardworking, dedicated and talented people, one they have no right to make.

Coming out of Covid-19, arts, culture and sport will be a lifeline and an outlet for all of us to enjoy and appreciate much more. They will be more prominent in our lives than ever. The ticket touts and third parties must be squeezed out. I wholeheartedly welcome the Bill and I look forward to the day when this long overdue legislation finally sounds the death knell for the ticket touts who exploit the genuine fans of this world.

I wish to alert Deputies watching on the screens that the debate is moving very quickly, in case they want to take part. The first round will be over very soon and I will then move on. I know there was a Deputy waiting to speak.

I welcome the Bill and the support it has received from the Cabinet. It is important that we put in place measures to tackle ticket touting. As society continues to reopen and as live events open again to the public, hopefully soon albeit with restricted numbers, it is safe to say that tickets will be in high demand. It is, however, disappointing that it has taken so long to get to this stage. It is four years since my colleague, an Teachta Quinlivan, introduced anti-ticket touting legislation to the Dáil, only to have it blocked by the Government. In the past, Fine Gael claimed, on the one hand, that it wanted to put an end to ticket touting while, on the other hand, actively putting up barriers against ticket touting legislation.

I hope this legislation can be enacted as soon as possible for the benefit of music and sports fans as we open up live events. Sporting events are so important to so many of us. That includes going to watch a game of cricket in Claremont Road in Sandymount, which is a great community hub. Unfortunately, the YMCA is trying to sell the ground, which would be a major loss to the local Sandymount community and a great blow to the cricketing community. The cricket club has been in Sandymount for 110 years and the YMCA is now trying to extinguish this amazing facility.

The club was developing the facility as a hub for cricket development. It is vital to preserve facilities like Claremont Road and I urge the YMCA to reflect on its plans to sell off the site. In my view, the sale of the YMCA grounds is contrary to its own ethos. The State has invested in this site and the facilities of the YMCA over the years but now the YMCA just wants to pack up and go off. It is not acceptable. I believe there needs to be Government intervention.

I welcome the Bill which while overdue is a genuine effort to tackle the scourge of touting. Nobody likes to be ripped off; it goes against human pride and principles. Yet, every time a major and attractive event takes place, genuine fans and supporters can be forced to pay way over the odds to get their hands on a ticket. They know it is probably the only way to get a ticket; the seller knows this and will manipulate the buyer.

Until now, the Government has been unable to take action. It has come to the brink but then faltered due to circumstances. This Bill has been a victim of Covid but has now become a necessity due to Covid. The need to reopen our entertainment industry to people has made the Bill a matter of urgency. However, this urgency cannot blur the fact that the Bill must be a long-term means of ensuring that fairness prevails for ticket buyers. It is imperative that this Bill be passed into law but it is crucial that it encompasses powers necessary to cover all eventualities. Otherwise, it will be difficult to enforce and open to being violated. The parameter for what constitutes an offence must be clearly defined and not left open to any form of interpretation. There can be no grey areas in this Bill because grey areas are a haven for opportunists.

The problem with the sale of tickets for more than their face value is not just restricted to known websites or unscrupulous ticket touts, and the issue goes way beyond this. There are small operators who will legitimately purchase the allowable number of tickets for a desirable event, and they will do it over and over again, using false names and different payment methods. The number of tickets they acquire may be small by comparison to the bigger operators but their intention to swindle remains the same. They will discreetly peddle tickets in pubs and clubs, outside sports grounds and even in schools and colleges for significantly more than their value. They operate largely under the radar and because they are small players, they remain inconspicuous and undetected.

Purchasers are willing to part with money to attend events. Irish people are lovers of music, dance and live entertainment. A rare opportunity to see a favourite artist perform is difficult to resist. The chance to see their county lift Liam MacCarthy or Sam Maguire tests the temptation of most. If it requires paying well above the price, the ultimate reward is considered worth the cost.

How will this Bill address such occurrences? How will it be possible to monitor activities that occur on a small scale but to a widespread extent? The fear is that, over time, the small scale will mushroom and the black market will explode. The roots are already established and there must be stringent measures in place to eradicate them. If these actions are not clearly seen to be nipped in the bud, the desired objectives and value of this Bill will be lost.

The exemption of events being run in aid of charitable organisations has the potential to be exploited. Charities seldom have the resources or manpower needed to organise and stage major events and they depend on the goodwill of others to help them. In the case of a private company organising a major event to aid a charity, does this Bill stipulate that the entire proceeds are handed over to the charity? Is it possible we will see charities being used as a screen for profiteering by organisers who can stay within the law simply by making a token donation to a charity?

Despite the fact this Bill is worthy and welcome, I have reservations about its ability to deliver the desired result. It falls on Government to identify and make provision within the Bill for any unscrupulous activity that may result from the introduction and interpretation of this new law. If the black market is permitted to take hold and the sale of tickets becomes a lucrative option for minor criminals and opportunists, then the fallout could result in serious and unforeseen consequences.

While expanding the powers of the Garda to enforce this new law is a welcome idea, it must be acknowledged that gardaí are already stretched to the limit. Garda numbers on the ground are insufficient and rural Garda stations have been closed and left unmanned. Placing additional duties on the shoulders of an already overstretched Garda force is neither acceptable nor doable. Similarly, extending the already burgeoning court lists to deal with petty peddlers is not feasible. The plans to tackle these possible issues must be set in stone if this Bill is to prove successful in the long term.

I welcome the general thrust of the Bill but envisage that it can be strengthened on Committee Stage.

I am very pleased to welcome the Bill, which will end many years of heartache and the taking advantage of enthusiastic concert goers and sports fans. It will mean that sporting and music fans benefit from a fairer sale system for tickets for live events, matches and concerts when the country reopens.

Ticket touts have been a scourge for many years, ripping people off, forcing up ticket prices and raising barriers to getting a ticket in the first place. This new law will make sure that everybody gets a fair price. It is good legislation for fans and it is also good news for sports organisations and artistic performers. The Bill will stop opportunists with no interest or involvement in music or sport from enriching themselves at the expense of sports and music fans.

Importantly, fans will have all the information they need to ensure they are not being ripped off. While, unfortunately, matches and concerts with fans are still some way off, it is expected that the numbers allowed to attend are likely to be restricted in the initial phases of eased restrictions. Ticket touts will only be too willing to exploit the opportunities presented by restricted attendances for popular events over the summer. With this in mind, the Bill includes a provision for the fast-track designation of events or venues if the normal designation procedure cannot be completed before events attended by fans resume. I am pleased that there is an exemption for amateur sports clubs and also registered charities for fundraising purposes.

The legislation will only be as effective as the penalties. To that end, any person found guilty of an offence under the Act will face a fine of up to €100,000 or two years imprisonment.

Once enacted, operators of venues with a capacity to hold 1,000 people or more will be able to apply to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment for designation of that venue. Once designated, reselling of tickets above the original sale price for that venue will be prohibited. When a ticket is sold for an event which has been designated, or which is to take place in a designated venue, then the original seller must be given clear information that tickets cannot be resold above face value for the event in question. Resellers of tickets must also provide information on the original sale price of the ticket and the location of the seat or standing area to which the ticket entitles the holder to gain admission.

This legislation is very welcome and will put an end to the unsavoury actions of ticket touts who have for decades, unfortunately, capitalised on the enthusiasm and loyalty of so many fans. It was opportunism at its worst. I commend the Minister and all who have worked on this Bill to this point. I look forward to its implementation.

I give credit where credit is due and this Bill is very welcome. It will stop ticket touts with no interest or involvement in music, sport or other cultural events rewarding themselves at the expense of fans, sporting bodies, artists and promoters. Everyone can be comforted by the fact that, as fans, they will now have the information they need to ensure they are not being ripped off. When people know their rights, they can be in a much stronger position. There is only one situation where reselling tickets above face value is allowed, for example, when charities are fundraising, but again I feel this could be exploited.

We need to tighten it up much more.

I hope the Bill will also stipulate the commissions that can be charged by various companies. If and when this Bill passes, how will it be enforced? The biggest problem in this country is enforcement.

How would anyone like to have the golden ticket, as in Willy Wonka? A situation arose last week with Penneys. Customers of Penneys may book a private appointment online. However, slots are being batted around on Buy and Sell with prices between €10 and €100. Companies are facilitating the slots, set up to allow for social distance. People are on different social media platforms exploiting this to fill their own pockets. After everything people have gone through, there is no compassion given to people around them.

I welcome the Bill. I hope it goes far enough, stops the touts and protects people and their hard-earned money but also for people's mental health, when they need to go to Penneys or their matches. I could see myself in 2018 or 2020 when Limerick came to Dublin and won the all-Ireland and how hard it was to get tickets. I used to go to every match with my sons, but I remember how hard it was to get any ticket, whether terrace or stand, and there were people throughout the country trying to do the same for their matches. We could see when online and when we arrived in Dublin there were people with fists full of tickets for sale. I hope when this Bill passes the money goes back to the people who have been ripped off for years upon years by these touts and others profiteering, who make no investment in any of our culture or sports. I commend the Minister on this and will support it 100%.

With the permission of an Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I wish to ask the Tánaiste a question that I have been trying to ask him all week. He can decide whether he wants to answer - it does not matter - but I must ask it for 150 people and families in Limerick and in Cork.

I do not think the Deputy should be asking the Chair's permission because I am going to say we will see what it is.

I have no idea what is coming.

I understand that. I want to clarify a statement the Tánaiste made in the Dáil about the Kerry Group and 150 jobs, among 150 families in Cork and Limerick, that are being lost in the Kerry Group in Charleville. The Tánaiste said the redundancies were voluntary. This is not the case. Will the Tánaiste clarify if he knows that? I have 100% information that those 150 people who are being made redundant were not asked about their jobs. Some people have been told their jobs are safe and now see their jobs are advertised in different countries.

The Deputy has raised the issue and in fairness to the Tánaiste it is up to him if he wants to deal with it in his reply.

We have finished the first round, there are no more speakers for that or the second round, so we are at the conclusion of the debate and the Tánaiste has the right to reply.

On the Deputy's question, I will have to go back and check the note I got from my Department at the time. My understanding was that this is a consolidation between Charleville and Naas and they would offer voluntary redundancies and redeployment in the first instance, not that compulsory redundancies would be ruled out. I will double-check and come back to the Deputy on that.

On the Bill, I thank Deputies for their strong support and comments. The question of clarity on the definition around charitable organisations, secondary marketplaces etc. have been noted by my officials and will be examined before Committee Stage.

As I said in moving the Bill, we believe it will act as a deterrent to gougers and opportunists who buy up tickets at the expense of sports and music fans, sporting bodies, artists and promoters. I look forward to working with the House during the Committee and Report Stages of the Bill, including on any amendments that may be proposed. As I mentioned, the Bill underwent pre-legislative scrutiny by the joint committee and has been adapted to reflect several of the recommendations in the committee's report, so I hope we can have cross-party support to ensure we get this Bill enacted before the recess and as soon as possible so that genuine fans are protected.

One of the amendments to the Private Members Bill approved by the Government in 2018 related to the prohibition on the use of bots to circumvent limits on the number of permitted ticket purchases. In 2019 the EU adopted legislation requiring member states to introduce a similar prohibition. That legislation took the form of an amendment to the unfair commercial practices directive which Deputy Murphy mentioned earlier, which is given effect here in the Consumer Protection Act 2007. Additional requirements apply to the provisions of the EU consumer protection law in areas such as consumer protection co-operation and penalties which do not apply to the provisions of purely domestic legislation. It is preferable, therefore, to include the provision on bots in amendments to the Consumer Protection Act which, along with a number of other amendments to the unfair commercial practices directives, forms part of the general scheme of a new consumer rights Bill. This was recently approved by the Government for drafting and should be enacted by the end of the year or the first half of next year. Bots are used to purchase tickets from the primary seller and this legislation before the House deals with secondary ticket resale. Therefore, even if bots are used to purchase tickets initially, this Bill, once enacted, will cover the resale of such tickets for a price above the original sale price.

In response to some of the earlier contributions, I neglected to mention in my opening remarks that Deputy Quinlivan had also proposed a Private Members Bill on this matter and I acknowledge that now.

Like Deputy O'Reilly, I also want to see some sporting and artistic events being piloted this summer. We have seen this in other countries. We are ahead of them in terms of vaccines and getting the incidence of the virus down, and I do not see why we should not now try to catch up with them in putting on some different events. The Minister, Deputy Catherine Martin, has an interest on that in the sporting and artistic side. Leinster Rugby has made proposals that I think are worthy of consideration although there may not be matches left to do that, but I am sure we will find an appropriate fixture through the GAA or somebody else down the line.

I heard what the Deputy said about arts. I would like to point out that in 2017 I made a commitment as Taoiseach that we would double spending on the arts by 2025. We actually got there last year. That is not acknowledged much but the budget for arts, culture and heritage in 2020 was more than double what it was in 2017. Yes, some of that is one-off funding relating to the pandemic, is being repeated this year and will not be retained forever, but I still see us coming out of this pandemic with a much higher budget for arts, culture and heritage than we had going into it and meeting the commitment to double spending in 2017 through to 2025. It is not recognised much and I think it should be. I can understand why people in any sector will always campaign for more funding for their sector, but a bit of acknowledgement when they get a huge or substantial increase might be a wise lobbying strategy.

Similarly, sports have seen a big increase in funding, particularly for women's sport and sport for children. We have massive capital programmes in arts and sports and our national cultural institutions. The National Gallery has had a fabulous new extension and work is due to begin soon on the National Concert Hall. There are really exciting plans to replace the Abbey Theatre. Not all of this is in Dublin. There are big investments in sports campuses and sporting facilities throughout the country through the large-scale sports infrastructure fund.

Deputy Richmond mentioned the law of unintended consequences, which we always debate in this House. We never debate one law but two, when we debate the unintended consequences. I will double-check on raffles but I am comfortable there will not be any restrictions on raffles by charities or sports clubs because a raffle is not a resale of a ticket, it is a competition.

Deputy Lowry mentioned the possibility that charities and sports clubs could be used as a loophole to create a secondary market. We need to bear in mind that possibility. We will consider that between now and the conclusion of this Bill.

I very much agree with what Deputy Catherine Murphy said about the events sector. It is a sector that we all really appreciate. It has given us the best days, evenings and weekends of our lives in many cases. I really look forward to the return of mass events and major events. The pandemic has been devastating for the businesses and staff in the sector. Financial support, including the PUP, is available from the Government. The wage subsidy scheme applies to all companies with a turnover that is down by 30% or more. Those that have a rateable premises benefit from the CRSS, although I appreciate that many do not. The small business assistance scheme for Covid, SBASC, is also available. We appreciate, however, that, even now, some businesses are falling between two stools so I am considering what we can do in phase 2 of the SBASC, particularly for businesses that do not operate from a rateable premises or that may be vehicle-based. The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Deputy Catherine Martin, hopes to launch a business assistance scheme for the music and events industry quite soon and is determining how we can assist the larger events companies in that regard. I hope we will have something ready for next week or the week after.

Question put and agreed to.