The proposal of June 21 as an indicative date for the return of live music to licensed premises has given local musicians some hope after a “tough” year.

In a statement to The Impartial Reporter this week, a Department for Communities spokesperson said: “The Minister has proposed relaxation of the current restrictions on live music and suggested, subject to public health advice, June 21 as a possible date for those to be introduced.

“Decisions on the relaxation of restrictions are a matter for the Executive and it is anticipated that the Minister’s proposal will be considered in the course of this week’s review of Covid-19 restrictions.”

Statement welcomed

Enniskillen musician Gareth Jones, who performs in venues across Fermanagh and beyond as a solo act and as part of the band Full Moon Fever, welcomes the statement from Deirdre Hargey, Minister for the Department for Communities, saying he and the rest of the band are ready to perform “at the drop of a hat”.

“I just want to get out and get playing more than anything else. It’s been a real tough year not being able to perform.

“It’s a full income that musicians have missed but for us it’s not just an income that we miss, it’s a bit of craic, it’s a social life and bringing happiness to everybody, that’s what I miss the most,” Gareth told this newspaper.

When asked if he has any concerns about performing live post-lockdown, he responded: “Thankfully I’ve had both vaccines now but the one thing I am worried about is people getting too excited and coming up and grabbing the microphone and things.

“We’ve dealt with that for many years but you never know what the side effects of that will be now.

“But just as long as people behave when they come up and have a good time at the same time, that’s the main thing.”


In preparation for the return of live music, Full Moon Fever; Gareth Jones (acoustic guitar and vocals), Ciaran Carson (vocals and bass), Ronan Curran (lead guitar), Paul Gallagher (drums) and Shay Wilson (keyboard and vocals), have been practising at a social distance.

“We socially distance practise in a big barn which is good fun, it’s great to get back with the lads. I look forward to getting back with the solo stuff but the band is the most important thing to us,” said Gareth, going on to note how he is looking forward to performing live with the band’s newest member, keyboardist Shay Wilson.


“Shay joined the band just before lockdown last year and he’s been in the band now for over a year but hasn’t had a gig yet. It’s going to be fantastic too because it just brings a whole new range to the band.

“We are just looking forward to getting back into our local bars and having the craic there as soon as they know when they’re allowed,” added Gareth.

Seeking clarity

Minister Hargey’s recent statement also gives hope to theatres, who although were given the indicative date of June 21 for reopening, where uncertain whether they’d be allowed to host live music due to being licensed premises.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council have yet to confirm a date for the reopening of the Ardhowen Theatre but in a statement to The Impartial Reporter on Tuesday (June 8), a Council spokesman said: “Fermanagh and Omagh District Council welcomes the Minister’s statement regarding the possibility for live music returning to licensed premises on June 21 and anticipates that clear detail on restrictions and measures that must be put in place to allow this to happen will be issued by the Northern Ireland Executive later this week.

“The Council will issue a statement and give full programme details when it has clarity regarding these measures and restriction.”