Attempts to save Brooks concerts appear doomed

Thursday 17 July 2014 07.15
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An initiative to encourage Garth Brooks fans to travel to Dublin has been announced
An initiative to encourage Garth Brooks fans to travel to Dublin has been announced
Páraic Duffy, Peter McKenna and Peter Aiken appeared before the committee
Páraic Duffy, Peter McKenna and Peter Aiken appeared before the committee

A last-ditch attempt to save the five Garth Brooks concerts appears to have failed this evening.

Dublin City Council has not agreed to allow an uncontested High Court action to overthrow its decision.

DCC Chief Executive Owen Keegan has also issued a statement denying giving assurances to the GAA that the five Garth Brooks concerts could go ahead.

Director of Croke Park Stadium Peter McKenna told the Oireachtas Transport and Communications Committee today that he would swear an affidavit that Mr Keegan gave him the assurance in February this year.

But Mr Keegan said while he told the Croke Park authorities that the council was supportive of special events and concerts at the stadium, no such assurance was given.

Mr Keegan has said he would welcome an independent review concerning the licensing decisions made concerning the Brooks concerts.

He has agreed to attend the committee again on Friday, following the conflict of evidence given by him and Mr McKenna.

Earlier, concert promoter Peter Aiken told the committee that he has been down "every avenue" to achieve an 11th hour reprieve over the five cancelled concerts.

He told the committee that he had met a brick wall.

Mr McKenna told the committee that the concerts could go ahead if there was an uncontested judicial review this afternoon.

In response to a question from Fine Gael Senator Eamonn Coghlan, Mr McKenna said this would mean getting the President of the High Court to sit and there were no objections.

Yesterday, Mr Keegan described the decision to limit the number of concerts to three as "appropriate, balanced and fair".

Mr Keegan said it was not possible to go back on the licensing decision regarding the concerts and said it would be a matter for the Oireachtas to amend legislation for the Minister for the Environment to change regulations.

This morning, GAA Director General Páraic Duffy said the association was advised by Dublin City Council that the council would support all five concerts.

He said he had to stress that at no stage was there ever given "even a hint" that a licence would not be granted for all five concerts.

He also told the committee that in a phone call to Mr McKenna, Mr Keegan advised him that the council would support a licence application for all five concerts.

Mr O'Mahony raised the GAA's assertion that Dublin City Council had told them it supported the five-day event. 

He said the council appeared before the committee yesterday and gave a different version of events.

Mr McKenna said he was so certain of the telephone conversation he had with Mr Keegan, he was prepared to swear an affidavit.

The GAA Director General also told the committee that the association had a permanent licence for three concerts a year and if it wished to hold events with more than 5,000 people, it has to apply for a special events licence.

Mr Duffy said the overwhelming demand for tickets was not anticipated.

There was confusion about the number of concerts permitted in Croke Park, he said.

He said this was a common approach and was used by other venues, such as Marlay Park, the Phoenix Park and the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. 

Legally there was no limit to the number of special event licences they could apply for, he added.

He said they had held extensive consultation with the local residents and contributed substantially to local facilities and events.

Mr Duffy was also critical of the council's handling of the fraudulent objections.

He said the council should have "taken the time to cast a more rigorously sceptical eye on both the nature and extent of the opposition to the five concerts". 

Mr Aiken told the committee that he was out a "seven-figure" sum over the cancellation of the concerts and that Brooks was down "millions".

'Dublin Goes Country' event for Brooks fans

Details of a series of events billed as the 'Dublin Goes Country' weekend have been announced.

The initiative is intended to encourage Brooks fans to travel to the capital despite the cancellation of the five Croke Park concerts.

Minister for Transport and Tourism Paschal Donohoe and Fáilte Ireland said the weekend will include a series of music events across Dublin, including an 'OK Corral' busking trail on 26 July and live outdoor music in the Dame Street area between 25 and 27 July.

Mr Donohoe said: "Garth may not be coming but Dublin is still here and there's a lot happening in Dublin that week."