New bylaws to tone down busking in the city and to ban ‘circle acts’ will go before Galway City Council at their next meeting on June 19.

This follows a campaign that started in May 2011 when issues of amplification and public obstruction were raised by local business people and councillors.

New draft bylaws were approved by the Strategic Policy Committee for Environment, Recreation and Amenity this week and will now be sent to seek approval of the full Council.

Stopping short of an outright ban on amplification, the laws allow for the use of a small amplifier with a maximum power of 50 watts and measuring no more than 415mm x 295mm x 250mm.

This equipment must be battery operated and it is believed, following a study carried out by amplification expert, Diarmuid Keaney, that the sound will carry no more than 35 metres from the location of the busker.

Chair of the SPC, Cllr Terry O’Flaherty, said that while she would favour of an outright ban on amplification, this compromise should be trialled over a period of nine months before a review is carried out.

“I am willing to go along with what has been recommended in this draft but I honestly feel that 12 months is too long before there is a review – we should give it up to March next year,” said Cllr O’Flaherty.

An SPC subcommittee was formed last February to examine the failure of the Code of Conduct that had previously been proposed – but got stuck on the City Council agenda for 10 months.

Member of the subcommittee, Cllr Cathal Ó Conchúir, said that the decision not to enforce an outright ban was made to ensure that talented musicians who needed backing tracks were not pushed off the streets.

“I think it would be an awful pity if fine and talented singers wouldn’t be allowed to perform.

“Melbourne had the same problem as Galway and they banned amplification only to bring it back a year later – what made Melbourne was gone – the whole nature of the street was gone,” said Cllr Ó Conchúir.

Other provisions in the law ban ‘circle acts’ performing on the main thoroughfare including Quay Street, High Street, Mainguard Street, Shop Street, Middle Street and Abbeygate Street.

‘Circle Acts’ are defined by the law as street performers that have a routine that requires the reservation of a specific space and require the audience to stop, watch and/or to participate.
For the rest of this story and the SPC discussions, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.