The Government will put in place a "clear road map" by the end of the month for the next phase of the removal of Covid-19 restrictions, including for the live music and arts sector, the Minister for Foreign Affairs has said.
Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Philip Boucher Hayes, Simon Coveney said the Government is very aware that it has been "extraordinarily stressful" for the live events, music and arts sector.
Mr Coveney said they are "rightly demanding certainty and timelines ... and we will be able to give them that before the end of the month".
Representatives of the entertainment and events industry have said they are "deeply disappointed" with the outcome of a meeting yesterday with Minister for Arts Catherine Martin.
Mr Coveney said no one in Government is blocking efforts by Ms Martin to try and move the issue on but the Government is working collectively to "chart out a course for how to we manage the Covid-19 challenges".
He said the Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 will meet to get an update from the National Public Health Emergency Team and the focus for now is on getting schools back safely and for college campuses to re-open safely.
He said every minister would like to be on the committee, but neither of the education ministers are on it, despite their departments being central to the challenge posed by the virus.
Meanwhile, the Taoiseach has said that a comprehensive road map, covering all sectors, is being worked on which will give clarity to all ereas including entertainment and business sectors.
Speaking on RTÉ's Six One News, he said that there will be a NPHET meeting next Wednesday followed by a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 on 27 August and then a full Cabinet meeting will be held to finalise the road map that will "take us through to the end of the year, and maybe beyond".
He added however, that there have been "many twists and turns" during the pandemic.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Dan MacDonnell of the Event Industry Alliance said they are continuing to push for the safe reopening of live indoor events from 1 September for the fully vaccinated and for the extension of pandemic support for the sector until June 2022.
He said there has been "no progress, no date and no promise of a date" for the resumption of live entertainment but more engagement is now needed.
Mr MacDonnell said that attendees at the virtual meeting with Minister Martin yesterday were "dismayed and totally disappointed" that the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Enterprise Minister Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly did not attend the meeting, though they had representatives present.
He said that while he felt sorry for the position Ms Martin has been left in, and while she is fighting, the outcome "is not good enough".
Yesterday Ms Martin told the 15 groups representing the industry of her disappointment that her plan to reopen the sector was not approved by the Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 and that she has requested a temporary seat on it.
Mr MacDonnell said Ms Martin should be allowed to sit on the Covid committee while it is discussing the reopening of the events sector.
He said that there are 35,000 people in full-time employment in an industry worth €3.5 billion to the economy and many tens of thousands more working on the sidelines.
"We need answers now... and the people who can give those answers are Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister Stephen Donnelly," he said.
He said that it is imperative the industry has ongoing meaningful engagement with Ms Martin and she has agreed to meet them again next week.
However, he said that cross-departmental involvement is needed with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Department of Health to "talk, engage and collaborate".
Sinn Féin says Min Catherine Martin has been sidelined. It is calling for clarity for entertainment sector as well as continuing supports for those out of work pic.twitter.com/4kpVf68tMD— Sandra Hurley (@sandra_hurley) August 19, 2021
Sinn Féin calls on Govt to publish road map for reopening
The Sinn Féin spokesperson on social protection, Claire Kerrane, has said it is "very reasonable" for the live entertainment industry to seek a road map for reopening and she called for the Government to publish it as soon as possible.
Ms Kerrane said that Minister Martin should be at the table in discussions on the matter saying that if the Government "aren't going to engage and consult with the sector then they need to directly consult with the minister".
"All they are looking for is a road map, it can be tweaked but would be a start for an industry that has been closed for 18 months," she said.
She said live entertainment remains the only industry that is closed fully.
She said that it is "absolutely critical to continue income supports" for the arts and entertainment sector and urged Minister Heather Humphries to reconsider payment cuts to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).
She said there is a very big difference between the PUP and the jobseekers' allowance and the qualifying criteria.
She said "these people are not unemployed, they are not job seekers" and are going to suffer financially and "it's not fair and it should not happen".
Ms Kerrane said that the Government needs "to give hope to the sector and show them that the Government do care".
Hospitality industry wants clarity on 'return to normal'
Meanwhile the CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland has said the Government must outline in their next reopening plan if and when their industry can return to normal.
Also speaking on Morning Ireland, Adrian Cummins said if the sector does not return to full capacity, the Government must continue to financially support businesses.
Otherwise they will face collapse, he warned.
"The Government has to level with the people of Ireland, and especially the hospitality industry, and outline in their plan, when will we get back to normalisation?
"Will that be September, will it be throughout the winter or will it be next March? We need to know, we need to plan for the future," he said.
He has also called for the Covid passport programme to be stood down, describing it as labour-intensive for businesses.
He said they hope this is in the Government's plan.