Galway City Council has voted in favour of new bye laws to limit busking and street performance. 

Councillors voted by 12 to 6 in favour of the measures, which will come into effect at the beginning of next year. 

The rules will ban the use of amplification or backing tracks by buskers before 6pm and also restrict so-called "circle acts", that attract large crowds of bystanders. The use of drum kits will be banned at all times. 

This afternoon's decision follows a long running discussion about busking in the pedestrianised city centre. 

Under the terms of the new Street Performance and Busking Bye-Laws, those in breach of the regulations will be liable for fixed charge penalties, starting at €75.

Councillors were told that a total of 262 submissions were made during a public consultation process on the proposals, earlier this year. 

The bye laws set a minimum age of 16 for those wishing to busk and place restrictions on the time any one performer can stay in one location. In addition, amplification or backing tracks will be banned before 6pm and similar restrictions will be placed on circle acts, that lead to crowds congregating around them during business hours. 

Initial proposals to impose a decibel limit for street performances were deemed to be unenforceable. 

Many Councillors speaking in favour of the proposals spoke of the need to take account of city centre businesses, pointing to access issues caused by crowds watching performances. 

Others, raised concerns about the implications the bye laws would have on freedom of expression and creativity in the city.

Fianna Fail’s Peter Keane, who proposed the measures, described them as "mild measures", which were not an attempt to quench busking. 

He pointed out that buskers could seek derogations to the bye laws during festival periods, subject to application to the City Manager. 

The regulations cover what’s described as the "protected streetscape", running from the top of Williamsgate Street to the end of Quay Street. 

Buskers opposed to the regulations staged a protest outside City Hall in advance of this afternoon’s meeting. 

The Galway Buskers’ Community had contended that the voluntary code of conduct would take all views into account and benefit performers, businesses and the public alike.

But earlier proposals regarding amplification were vague, stipulating only that volumes would be kept at a level that could not be heard 35 metres away from the point of performance.