John Sheahan, Foster & Allen lobby Irish parliament

John Sheahan Foster Allen lobby Irish parliamen
28/09/2016. Launch of the Irish music bill. Pictured (Ltor) Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin TD, singer/song writers Phil Coulter and John Sheahan joined musicians and Labour Party TDs played irish music outside Leinster House this afternoon before going to Leinster House to support a Labour Irish music bill . They are calling for legislation for an Irish Music quota for Irish in Radio in 2016. Photo: Sam Boal/

Highlighting a proposed bill to get more home-grown music on Irish radio

A host of Irish trad stars joined forces with an Irish politician recently, as they camped outside Leinster House to get more Irish music played on the radio there. Labour TD Willie Penrose says his proposed bill of his could save thousands of jobs in the process.

So he gathered up a group of Irish musicians and brought them for a singsong outside the gates of Leinster House, while a host of Labour TDs looked on. Foster and Allen, Phil Coulter, Johnny Duhan, John Sheahan, Sibéal Ní Chasaide, and the Doyle sisters were among those who belted out a song as Labour’s Alan Kelly, Ged Nash and Joan Burton watched.


Longford-Westmeath TD Penrose, who presented the bill to the Dáil, seeks a quota of 40 per cent airtime for Irish music. That means ‘all genres once it’s Irish music’. Asked if it specifies in the bill how a song is determined to be Irish, Penrose “we’re working through that, yeah we are”.

“We are not asking for much – this has been in France for the last 20 or 30 years, 40% quota, it’s in Canada – there’s a 90 per cent quota after being introduced in South Africa in recent weeks,” he said.

The 90 per cent quota was brought in by national broadcaster SABC in South Africa. Penrose said there are ‘Eight to ten thousand jobs depending upon the bill’, but didn’t detail where these jobs are located within the Irish music industry.

He said: “Thousands of the finest Irish musicians are being excluded from our airwaves simply because we have allowed ourselves to be steered by musical trends and fashions constructed primarily in the US and Great Britain.”

In Canada, English-language and French-language stations much ensure that at least 35 per cent of the popular music they broadcast each week is Canadian content, while commercial radio stations also have to make sure that at least 35 per cent of popular music broadcast between 6am and 6pm Monday to Friday is Canadian.

There are also quotas for special interest music, native radio stations and ethnic radio stations. Penrose said that there is a big appetite in Ireland for country and western music, as evidenced by the recent country and western music awards, and the popularity of musicians such as Nathan Carter.


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