Enforcement officers are to be equipped with sound monitors to test noise levels of street singers under new bylaws adopted by councilors in Killarney today.
They will also decide on the quality of the music under the terms of the long-sought-after bylaws.
The regulations had been out for public consultation and just two submissions had been received, both from An Garda Síochána. Gardaí had asked the council what mechanism would be in place to measure sound levels, especially where businesses and residents complained.
They also wanted to know who would keep track of the two-hour limit on performances.
Kerry County Council enforcement staff will have sound monitors to check sound levels, the council meeting in Killarney heard. Enforcement of the bylaws will be by both the gardai and the council.
Along with monotony, vulgar songs and anti-American comments have caused concern in the town in recent years.
The new laws will clamp down on poor-quality music as well as offensive language.
"Busking is more than welcome in Killarney. It adds massively to our town. But where there are problems they are severe and what is not welcome is foul language, one-track music, and staying in the same place all day," the mayor of Killarney Niall Kelleher said.
Now street performers in Killarney are to be banned from using offensive language — and singing the same song over and over.
The new draft bylaws governing street performance are the first of their kind in Killarney and are needed to bring “harmony” to the tourist town, a previous meeting heard.
It is 20 years since the councillors first put forward the idea of regulating street music.
Labour Councillor Marie Moloney said they would put a stop to "buskers coming into our town and setting up at 11.30 pm and playing until 3.30 am in the morning!", while Cllr Maura Healy-Rae felt the 9 pm cut-off under the new laws was a bit early for Killarney and 10pm would be more suitable.
"Everyone is aware of the profanity. But what kind of musical standard is required? A person’s musical taste is subjective," Cllr John O’Donoghhue asked.
Under the new laws, “a street performer must not use lewd, offensive, or racist language or conduct (including song lyrics) as part of his/her act”.
All street performances are now to be limited to two hours in one location. Performers will then have to move “more than 50m" in order to continue.
In an attempt to address the question of quality and repetition, the draft bylaws stipulate that a street performer who plays music and sings songs "must have a sufficient repertoire to avoid constant repetition.”
Breaches will attract fixed charge notice fines of €75 and performers who end up in the District Court can be fined up to €1,500.
There are designated areas for busking including Kenmare Place near the Jarvey stand, all of Main St and High St, Plunkett St, and College St as far as the courthouse, and New St as far as the Bank of Ireland.
There are to be no performances outside designated areas and busking cannot begin before 11am and the noise limit is capped at 80 decibels.
Along with musicians, street circus acts will also have to have a permit. However, fortune tellers and people offering temporary hair plaits and tattoos are exempt from having to pay the annual permit, which will cost €30.