I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Troy, to the Chamber and thank him for introducing this legislation that will frustrate ticket touts and others trying to profiteer from the sale of sporting and other tickets. People can find it very difficult to get tickets when they go on sale and many ticket touts are profiteering on the back of people's interest in cultural and sporting events. I call the Minister of State.
Sale of Tickets (Cultural, Entertainment, Recreational and Sporting Events) Bill 2021: Second Stage
I am pleased to have the opportunity to introduce the Sale of Tickets (Cultural, Entertainment, Recreational and Sporting Events) Bill 2021 to Seanad Éireann. The aim of this Bill is to ban the practice of ticket touting or the resale of tickets for large, popular events for more than their original value. This positive development will facilitate fairer access for genuine fans to tickets for cultural, entertainment, recreational and sporting events. Its introduction is timely as we look forward to a point, hopefully in the very near future, when we will be able to attend concerts, theatres and matches again. There was a positive pilot event in Kilmainham over the weekend. That event showed just how useful antigen testing can be as a weapon in our armoury to fight the virus.
As we look forward to further opening of society and the economy, in line with what I hope will be the improved public health situation and a successful vaccine roll-out, it is important that we are prepared for the inevitable increase in demand for tickets for live events. We want to prevent fans from being taken advantage of due to the limit on attendance in the interests of public health. Of course, the benefits of this legislation will long outlive the public health measures in place to stem Covid-19. We have heard all too often of the experiences of genuine fans waiting patiently to buy tickets only to miss out and to see those same tickets for sale on a secondary site for far more than they can afford or are willing to pay, and for far more than the original value of the tickets.
The systematic purchasing of tickets by touts and secondary sellers looking to make a quick profit at the expense of sport and music fans, sporting bodies, artists and promoters needs to stop. I believe this Bill is the best vehicle to do that. The Bill has been in development for some time. A consultation process that began in 2017 showed almost universal support for legislation in line with the provisions presented here today. 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; Ireland's two main events promoters, Aiken Promotions and MCD Live Nation; the Consumers Association of Ireland; many public representatives; and, not least, by consumers. Several artists and entertainers have also expressed their disapproval of the secondary ticket market, especially with the growth in online markets.
Opposition to a price cap at the time came mainly from primary ticket service providers and secondary ticket platforms. At the time, one of the largest primary sellers was also in the market of resale but, in 2018, Ticketmaster announced 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. This fan exchange was launched in 2017 and facilitates fans who cannot attend events to transfer their tickets without making a profit. While commercial considerations no doubt played a part in Ticketmaster's decision, it may also have been as a response to the growing opposition of fans, sporting bodies, promoters and artists to an unfair secondary ticket market.
Members of the Oireachtas have been actively engaged on this matter over recent years. In 2017, the then Deputy Rock and the now Minister for Health, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, introduced a cross-party Private Members' Bill seeking the prohibition of above-cost ticket touting. Later the same year, the Sale of Tickets (Sporting and Cultural Events) Bill was introduced by Deputy Quinlivan. In 2018, the Government made the decision to support the Bill from Deputies Stephen Donnelly and Rock on Second Stage and approved the drafting of a number of amendments to the Bill. Unfortunately, that Bill lapsed upon the dissolution of the Thirty-second Dáil and although the current Bill differs from it in several respects, it has the same objective, that is, to see fans treated fairly and to prohibit profiteering. I regret it has taken so long to bring the Government's Bill before the Oireachtas but I hope we can progress it quickly and enact it at the same time as opening up society and the economy. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Deputy Quinlivan, former Deputy Rock and the current Minister for Health, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, for their work on this positive and important initiative.
The overarching purpose of the Bill is to prohibit the sale or advertising for resale of tickets for a price exceeding the original sale price for designated events or events taking place in designated venues with 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 resale at a price above the original sale value. Designation will also make the task of monitoring and enforcing the legislation more effective because it will apply either to a particular individual event or a list of venues contained in a register.
The Bill currently includes a provision banning the unauthorised sale of tickets for matches or official events during the rescheduled Euro 2020 championship. Its inclusion stems from a Government commitment given to UEFA as part of the bid for hosting a number of matches during the tournament in Dublin. As no matches were held in Dublin due to the pandemic, and because the tournament is set to conclude on 11 July, the Government is proposing to move an amendment in this House to remove the provisions relating to Euro 2020.
It is clear to me that we all want this legislation in place as sporting and arts events reopen. This Bill will act as a deterrent to the unfair practice of buying up tickets at the expense of genuine fans, sporting bodies, etc. I look forward to working with the House through all Stages of the Bill. It underwent pre-legislative scrutiny by the Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment, has been adapted in light of the committee's report and has past all Stages in the Dáil. I hope we can have similar, cross-party support in the Seanad to ensure we get the Bill enacted before the summer. I look forward to an informed, positive and constructive debate with all Senators.
I thank the Minister of State for his detailed briefing to the House. I welcome the Bill and am delighted to see its progression like everyone else in Seanad Éireann. Everybody finds ticket touting massively frustrating, particularly when there are so many genuine supporters of a team or artist who are unable to attend an event, and that is especially the case as we begin to see crowds returning to live sport and concerts. It is important to ensure fairness for people. I have been fortunate enough to attend a number of all-Ireland finals and concerts. It is always infuriating to see touts selling tickets outside Croke Park when I know genuine supporters have not been able to receive a ticket. In recent years, Galway has been in a couple of finals. It would test your patience.
Galway made a final back in 1998.
Galway won the hurling in 2017, as I am sure the Senator is aware.
I was raising the 1998 final for the benefit of Senator Wall.
We will not mention Kildare. On a serious note, it has been frustrating and galling to see the resale websites becoming more common and charging extraordinary prices for tickets over the past decade, as the Minister of State alluded to. I will be delighted to see an end to the practice. The numbers of tickets available on those resale sites has increased and is growing consistently. These websites were owned by promotional companies which sold the tickets originally. It was, effectively, legalised touting. Undercover investigations such as the one conducted by "Dispatches" on Channel 4 in the UK showed that large numbers of tickets were going directly onto resale websites without ever being sold. Thankfully, that is no longer the case.
Of course, no legislation will remove criminal acts entirely and we continue to see an issue over tickets being resold online, given how difficult it is to police. This legislation will at least ensure it is being done by individuals rather than by the companies responsible for selling the tickets.
Euro 2020 is happening currently and despite it being illegal, tickets for matches are being sold for thousands of pounds. It was reported that tickets for last week's game between England and Germany sold for up to 20 times their face value in some cases, which is outrageous.
Organisations such as UEFA and other sporting bodies and promoters, despite what they may claim, do not particularly care if tickets end up being touted for far higher prices than their face value. We also need to examine whether greater responsibility should be placed on the primary sellers of tickets to take every possible measure to ensure that tickets cannot be resold.
Given the technology we have in this day and age, it does not seem unreasonable to me that each ticket would have a name on it and a person would have to show his or her ID when entering an event. Names could be linked to barcodes. I appreciate this would result in cases where people who can no longer attend an event for whatever reason are left with tickets they cannot use, but it is better than tickets being sold outside of stadiums for hundreds or thousands of euro. Other measures which achieve the same outcome do not result in people who are no longer able to attend an event having to suffer a loss. It would be possible and preferable.
In his closing contribution I would be grateful if the Minister of State could offer his views on this, in particular on whether we need to enhance the responsibility of primary sellers, which I believe we should, to ensure that tickets go to genuine fans insofar as is humanly possible. I acknowledge the work done in the past number of years by the Minister for Health, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, the former Deputy, Noel Rock, and Deputy Maurice Quinlivan. As a member of the Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment, I am fairly familiar with the Bill and I recommend it.
Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit. Will it be okay if I share time with Senator Victor Boyhan?
Is that agreed? Agreed.
I welcome the Minister of State. I was walking down Grafton Street the other day and saw a man staring at me. As I walked by him he looked at me and said, "Deputy Robert Troy?" and I said, "No, Senator Rónán Mullen". He looked crestfallen, almost as crestfallen as the Minister of State looks on hearing that story. I welcome the Bill and thank the Minister of State for bringing it before the House.
You are 15 years the Minister of State's senior.
It is all in the hair dye. I better put paid to that rumour.
The subject matter of the debate is the Sale of Tickets (Cultural, Entertainment, Recreational and Sporting Events) Bill 2021 and not any other issue.
The Bill is welcome. There has been a lot of talk about it for a long time, but it has been a long time coming. I understand that in 1998, the year Galway beat Kildare - there were probably ticket touts around then - Young Fine Gael proposed it. There have been many calls for and promises and proposals on this Bill. To paraphrase "Bleak House", the young person who was promised a new rocking horse has grown up, possessed himself or herself of a real horse and trotted away into the next world in the time it has taken the Oireachtas to address his or her concerns. The Bill is now being rammed through all Stages in one hour. That I have to be serious about, as it is no way to mark Seanad 100. This is the Government spitting in the face of the Seanad yet again and I object to it, as I am sure many others do.
In the brief time available to me, I will come to the Bill itself. It is welcome. There was a time when ticket touts were at least people who bought and resold tickets on the street. They may have invested a few quid and were selling tickets on. It was still gouging people. A friend of mine, a fellow called John Smith, used to enjoy at concerts going up to people who were thinking of selling their spare tickets and frustrating the touters and gougers by telling them he was a genuine supporter and would give them face value for a ticket. On a few occasions he succeeded, in the presence of outraged ticket touts, in getting people to follow their conscience and sell a ticket at face value to a genuine fan. It is the case these days that we are not dealing with people on the street but very often websites which are being operated using bots and algorithms. There may be criminal elements involved in the running of all of this. A Bill is urgently needed to stop this practice.
I welcome the fact that we will not have the likes of Ticketmaster being able to gouge further, as it did through its Seatwave resale platform where people returned tickets to sell them for further profits, which was disgraceful. As I conclude my portion of this time, I wish to state that there should be something in the Bill to prevent people buying too many tickets at once. That is going to contribute to the problem in one way or another.
The kernel of this Bill is that it will stop opportunists with no interest or involvement in music, sport or entertainment at the expense of sports and music fans, sporting bodies, artists and promoters. They are not my words. Rather, they are the words of the Minister of State. That is good enough for me.
I thank the Minister of State for pursuing this matter as quickly as he has. I fully support every aspect of the Bill. I also thank the Minister of State for acknowledging the generous contributions the former Deputy, Mr. Noel Rock, the Minister for Health, Deputy Steven Donnelly, and Deputy Maurice Quinlivan have made to the Bill. The Minister of State left one person out whom I want to put on the record, namely, Deputy Denis Naughten, who did an awful lot of work and lifting in regard to the Bill which might have escaped some of us. It is positive legislation.
I take on board what Senator Mullen has said. We are at the end of a term and the Minister of State is a keen and diligent Minister and wants to get the Bill through the Houses. We not cannot countenance this practice continuing in the next session. I know we are under pressure and are committed, but I am supportive of every Stage of the Bill. I ask the Minister of State to take my comments back to his colleagues. Given all of the pressures and constraints, we must always afford all sides of the House and the other House time to engage with legislation. I thank the Minister of State and wish him every success with this important Bill.
Other contributions have started with or contained a lighter note. I am from a similar county to that of the Cathaoirleach and I spend quite a bit of time at all-Ireland finals and semi-finals. This Bill is important for our constituents and people living in our counties.
I welcome the Minister of State and the Bill in general. Most people have spoken about the challenges we have faced in terms of ticket touts over the past 20 or 30 years. Everyone has memories of walking to Croke Park through Jones' Road and seeing people buying and selling tickets. That was the way things were done for a long time. It was very hurtful to genuine fans. In the past five or ten years, ticket touting has turned into a much more professionally run business. Big businesses have been set up on the back of exploiting genuine fans.
It is not a moment too soon that the Bill is being debated. The Minister of State said he hoped the Bill would have been passed earlier but the important point is that it is being passed now and it is welcome on all sides of the House. When the Dáil and Seanad work together we can get good legislation through that will benefit citizens of the country.
It is important that the Bill is enacted quickly because we are in a situation whereby there are test events and spectators at events without massive capacity in stadiums. On Sunday, 3,000 people attended the Clare and Tipperary game. Demand is high and the number of tickets is low. The possibility of exploitation on the part of ticket touts exists. The fact that we are enacting the Bill as quickly as possible is hugely welcome because there is high demand given that people have not been able to go to games for the past two years. Most people who are into sport, including me, want to get back to supporting their county or club and want to get to games. There is a necessity to pass the Bill as quickly as possible. It is also worth noting that there are exemptions in the Bill for charities and amateur sports, which I welcome. We all know there are clubs and charities in our communities that use all Ireland final tickets as a way of fundraising locally. They are limited in how they can raise money, and have been even more limited over the past year and a half.
Having that provision in place is important for them to be able to get extra money when they do have tickets that have been donated to them from clubs or organisations.
It is worth noting, and I am keen to put it on the record, that Young Fine Gael brought this forward a long time ago and promoted this measure. The fact that it is coming through now shows the impact that youth-based political organisations and groups like that can have. I wish to acknowledge the good work by Deputy Quinlivan and by Deputy Stephen Donnelly when he was in opposition, as well as my Fine Gael colleague, Noel Rock, who has done immense work on this in recent years.
This goes back to 2017 when U2 were playing concerts in Croke Park and tickets being sold on Ticketmaster's secondary website, seatwave.ie. The tickets were on sale on the Ticketmaster site for €80 or €90 while on the other site, they were being sold for €1,300. It is outrageous that this was allowed to happen for so long. People were being exploited to such an extent for things they really wanted to go to. They believed these were once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to get to see their favourites. They were spending vast sums of money on such events. It was not right or fair. I am keen to put on the record the contribution on ticket touting made by Noel Rock as a Deputy. That is recognised by all.
I look forward to colleagues sharing all their tickets at face value when Kildare are in the all-Ireland this year, but more of that anon. I too welcome the Minister of State to the House. The Bill is welcomed by the Labour Party, by all sport and music fans and by all those who purchase tickets to attend events in the country.
We should take the opportunity to mention the workers in the events industry. They have gone through such difficult times in the past 14 months. and hopefully they are beginning to see some light with the opening up of their industry.
We are looking forward to getting back to attending live sport, music and arts events once again. We welcome the pilot programmes proposed by the Government and cannot wait for the maximum number of persons to return to these events once again. One club got two tickets for yesterday's Leinster Championship match. They were raffled between 120 members. This brings it back and shows how scarce tickets can be for so many events, albeit the pandemic was the cause for this particular scarcity. Thankfully, the Lilywhites overcame Offaly yesterday and the scramble in club draws will continue until the next day. I imagine the Minister of State will also be on the lookout for tickets, given the opposition we will face in the forthcoming match.
Being able to attend local GAA matches and seeing my nieces and nephews play in the past week showed to me the human need of all Irish people for the enjoyment of live sport. There can be no doubt about the joy that these matches brought to so many in the GAA fields. We must never underestimate the value of live events to the human spirit.
I wish to mention one important aside. Colleagues of the Minister of State have brought this up and I am sure the Minister of State is aware of it. There have been calls for an end to pay-per-view matches. This only brings home the enjoyment of live matches when people are not in a position to look in or are unable to attend and support their counties. We must ensure that all our championship matches are free to air.
It is in the context of ensuring that as many genuine fans as possible get to see their heroes that this Bill is so important. The Bill looks to address the blatant exploitation of so-called ticket touts. These middlemen are living off our desire for live events and depriving athletes, artists and organisations of potential money that would ensure their lives and organisations are far better. In many cases this activity threatens the livelihood and advancement of those entertaining us at these events.
The need for this Bill comes back to the ordinary person that ticket touting directly affects. The current unregulated market curtails the common good. It is a drain on society and prevents many from enjoying their favourite artist, event or team. We are all aware of the pre-Internet days when a fan lucky enough to get a ticket would turn up at an event. The first person he would meet was the person buying or selling a ticket. Immediately the fan's thoughts turned to family and friends who, despite hours of trying, could not get tickets. The fan was left asking how that happens. On the other hand, if a genuine fan had a spare ticket, he would wait on the roadside of the venue seeking someone he knew or someone who looked like a genuine fan in order that he could pass on the ticket at face value. Often the reaction of the prospective buyer told its own story. The buyer would ask the fan why he was selling it for face value and whether the ticket was actually real. Such was the joy of the buyer actually getting a ticket but the experience of the touting system was that the buyer would be expected to pay well above the face value of the ticket for the event.
Now, we seem to have created a new online industry where a ticket for a live event is sold to the highest bidder. Sites have been created for such modern problems. At the same time these sites create problems for fans who continue to find themselves without a ticket and, most important, without the financial resources to afford the inflated prices these sites charge. This is why we welcome the Bill and its attempt to promote fair access to tickets to cultural, entertainment recreational and sporting events. As has been mentioned, exemptions would apply for charitable organisations and amateur sports clubs, which rely on these tickets for their resources.
The Bill will allow fans to plan for and afford the ticket prices that those behind the events originally costed the event for. Several Bills have been proposed. It is right - it has already been done in the House today - to thank all those who proposed them and who have contributed to getting us to this day.
We welcome this Bill. The pandemic has whetted our appetites to get back to live events. The Bill will, we hope, ensure fair access to tickets for events and ensure genuine fans will once again be able to roar on their teams or sing along to their favourite artists.
On behalf of the Green Party I welcome this legislative initiative. It is meaningful and it matters. It is because Irish people, including the Irish sporting and music-following public really care. They are seeking a step towards fairness. Like other speakers, I welcome all those who had anything to do with this, including the current Minister for Health, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, and the former Deputy, Noel Rock, who is probably at home watching this. He should be proud of his contribution.
Several speakers have mentioned the genuine supporter and the stereotypical day in Croke Park, when we see someone who has a ticket to spare at short notice selling it for face value from one genuine GAA supporter to another. I often wondered not about questioning the bona fides of the seller but of the person who received the ticket. I am sure the seller was a good judge of person, although he or she had only a split second to make up his mind. It galls me to think that the person who received it could then sell it on seconds later for a multiple of the face value.
The orderly legislative purpose of this Bill comes into sharp focus when we think of contact tracing, which will be around for some time to come. Contact tracing will be far more difficult to do if the black market is alive and well. Moreover, with maximum capacity in many stadiums not back yet, there is need for as much fairness as possible. Some stadiums are by nature small. I think of the stadium in Newbridge. Newbridge or nowhere, it is a fantastic atmospheric cauldron but tickets are always in great demand and not everyone can go.
I note that notification was made to the EU Commission and, seemingly, there was no issue in respect of compatibility. The legal advice has come back that despite the question over property rights, which this would qualify under, the property rights of ticket sellers are not unlimited. This right is not unfettered. On foot of that advice, the Minister of State is proceeding to do something that will no doubt make an impact and help consumers.
With the little time I have left I will mention one other matter. It is something for another day when we are talking about sporting events. It is the use of drone recording from immediately outside the stadium. This has the advantage of a vital three or four seconds of advanced transmission over the live feed. If there is betting as a live sporting event unfolds, at the moment this is not captured in Irish law.
That is not the subject matter of the Bill.
It is something for when we are next talking about sporting events, as we must not undermine their integrity. It is something in respect of which I will liaise directly with the appropriate Department. For today I am keen to say, like everyone else, that it is great to have unanimity in the House. It is a good day for legislators and a good day for consumers.
Regardless of whether we are talking about mega international music stars or amazing footballers, their careers started in their local villages or towns. In the case of Johnny Giles, it was playing football in the streets. His talent was nurtured, championed and fostered by his local community. It is so important that we do not forget the people who are there in infancy - the embryonic stage before an international star is born - when there is such demand for tickets. Those people who fostered, encouraged and coached voluntarily should be treated with the respect and fairness and this legislation is a great step in the right direction.
It is good to see the Minister of State. He know he is always welcome. I would normally agree with Senator Mullen. There is something very uncomfortable about rushing Bills through this House. However, I can fully understand the Minister of State's logic. Westmeath dispatched Laois with ease at the weekend, Kildare will be a mere formality and the Leinster final awaits so I fully understand why the Minister of State needs to get this legislation through as quickly as possible.
Sinn Féin will be supporting the legislation and we are happy to see it before the Seanad. It has been a long time coming. I appreciate the fact that the Minister of State paid tribute to Deputy Quinlivan, who did an awful lot of work on the Bill in 2017. I should also recognise the work of former Deputy Noel Rock, Deputy Stephen Donnelly and others over the past couple of years. This is important legislation that cannot be enacted soon enough.
I welcome the fact that we are able to move this Bill forward. There was much delay in the previous Dáil in respect of a similar Sinn Féin Bill. The basic intention behind the Bill is to prohibit the sale or advertisement of tickets above selling price. This legislation will be good for consumers and bad for ticket touts. I grew up in north London where ticket touts were a major problem. It was a feature of life every Saturday when I would go to see Spurs play. We have all come across it in connection with concerts, football and hurling matches and a host of cultural events so this legislation is very much overdue and it is very welcome that the Minister of State is taking this important as quickly as possible.
The basic intention behind the Bill is to prohibit the sale or advertisement of tickets above selling price. The Bill will be good for consumers and bad for tickets touts. The main aim of the Bill - and of the incarnations that preceded it - is to protect consumers and fans from overpricing. This will promote fair access to events 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 or more. In the context of the reopening of venues, we are still in a period of restrictions. I acknowledge how much of a challenge the past year has been not just for the venues but also for artists, sound technicians and other supporting staff involved in the staging of any production, concert or similarly ticketed events.
When many of us think about tickets being sold for more than the original price, we think of those people outside GAA stadiums or other venues selling tickets to fans waiting outside. While this was an issue in the past for consumers who paid over the odds for tickets outside venues, there are more sophisticated organisations that buy tickets on release and subsequently sell them to consumers at higher prices. This is the type of activity that the Bill sets out to curb.
It is important to note that there are welcome exemptions in place on 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 fund raising 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.
When we discuss our sporting events and artists, we must remember that without investment in grassroots sports and cultural spaces and support for artists, we will not have any events to go to. There is a good conversation to be had on another occasion in terms of how we deal with greater support at grassroots level for all of our sports.
I echo what others said about free-to-air events. What happened at the weekend was a source of huge frustration for Limerick supporters among others. It is wrong at the best of times not to have a free-to-air option but when pubs are closed and there are no other options to see events, we are literally forcing people back in time 30 years. I know it is not directly related to the Bill, and I appreciate the indulgence of the Cathaoirleach, but it is something that needs to be addressed. I know Senator Crowe raised the matter again this morning on the Order of Business. I thank the Minister of State for his time.
I thank all the Senators who contributed. The debate was largely positive. The Bill marks a positive step forward in the promotion and protection of consumers. It is about ensuring that legitimate fans can get access to tickets at the original value for sporting, music and other cultural events and not be fleeced. It is good, therefore, that we have cross-party support and unanimity in the Seanad.
It is perhaps regrettable that despite the fact that Private Members' Bills were introduced three or four years ago by Opposition Deputies in the Dáil, it has taken so long to have this legislation introduced. There are two aspects to that. There are always competing demands in any Department in terms of drafting legislation. One then has to go through various processes like pre-legislative scrutiny, which, in itself, takes a number of months. It is something we can note going forward. On the charge that the Bill is being rushed through today, no Opposition amendments have been submitted. There is only one amendment coming from the Government. We will deal with this in a timely fashion. I do not think anyone has been prevented from having the opportunity to speak on the Bill. Sometimes it makes sense to do something efficiently. We are criticised by some for not doing what is proposed fast enough and then we are criticised for bringing the Bill forward before the summer recess. We know that we need it now because tickets are at a premium as a result of Covid-19. Obviously, the problem has worsened but the Bill will be of benefit long after Covid. We really need it now, which is why we wanted to get it in before the summer recess.
In response to Senator Crowe, if the primary ticket sellers put their names on the tickets, we would not need this legislation. That is the reason we intervened.
In response to Senator Mullen, I do not know whether to take what he said as a compliment but we will leave that for others to say.
In response to Senator Boyhan, I failed to acknowledge Deputy Denis Naughten, who initiated something similar in 1997, long before my time in the Oireachtas . I am sure the Senator will forgive me for that. The reason we want to get the Bill through before the end of this session is to have it in place when we have restricted numbers in stadia.
Senator Ahern is right. It is about protecting consumers and ensuring genuine fans in getting access to tickets at the original value. The designation in terms of venues with a capacity to hold 1,000 or more is based on the normal capacity of a stadium, not on Covid limits. This is not based on the reduced limits being introduced now because of Covid but, obviously, it will help. The Senator is right to mention the issue of charities because so many charities and local GAA clubs depend on the ability to raffle tickets as a fundraising exercise. That was a very important point that came up in the Bill.
I do not think Senator Wall will have to worry about the All-Ireland issue. As Senator Gavan said, Kildare will have a big challenge on its hands on the next occasion. If Senator Wall can get me a ticket for the match, I would very much appreciate it. We look forward to a good game on the day.
Senator Martin made a point about a matter that is outside my remit but I will endeavour to refer to the appropriate Minister on his behalf.
Senator Gavan set out the real reason we are rushing the Bill. As a man who, like me, has strong links to Westmeath, the Senator will undoubtedly be cheering on the county when we meet the Lilywhites in the not-to-distant future.
Everybody spoke very positively and favourably about the Bill. It is timely and appropriate. I thank the House for facilitating its swift passage today.
When is it proposed to take Committee Stage?
Is that agreed? Agreed.