The residents versus the revellers
Complaints from Marlay Park residents highlight that not everyone welcomes the sight of revellers coming down the road
This is what you’d call a classic “on the one hand” scenario. On the one hand, you can understand the predicament of those Marlay Park residents who’ve complained about the effects of thousands of revellers tramping up and down their roads in recent weeks on their peace, quietness and enjoyment of their amenities. They’ve purchased their gaffs in the leafy SoCuDu suburbs near the beautiful Marlay Park and never expected to have the modern-day equivalent of Lisdoonvarna, Siamsa Cois Laoi, Feile and Oxegen happening down the road every summer. I was going to mention Altamont, but that would be a step too far. Remember, soft-as-shite rockers Kodaline played Marlay Park.
On the other hand, and there is another hand in this scenario, these annual concerts bring in revenue for the local council to keep Marlay Park in the state to which the residents are accustomed on the other 351 days of the year when the park is not in use for concerts or the production of same. The concerts also provide income for some local residents and bring in business to the area too. There is also the fact that modern concerts of this size and ilk are extremely well-policed and managed – just look at the pages devoted to stewarding, security and health and safety in the licence application for these shows).
I was at Longitude on Friday and, thanks to a predictable bout of navigational numptiedom, ended up having to walk an unexpected mile or so through said leafy suburbs to get to the venue. The amount of stewards and security people at every turn was noteworthy, as was the lads out with bags picking up rubbish. You didn’t get that at the festivals of old, that’s for sure.
There appeared to me to be very few problems outside – aside from boisterous youths who I assume are not uncommon in the SoCoDu ‘hoods – and only a few snags inside (such as the crush of people trying to make their way from the main arena to the Heineken tent to see Tyler, the Creator). Sure, there were drunk kids, stoned kids (the amount of drugs being openly consumed was quite something) and stupid kids, but, again, I can’t imagine this is anything new. At least, there was no camping.
This is understandably not good enough for the residents. When you live within the vicinity of a venue or space which is used for large-scale events like this, you are inconvenienced no matter what way you look at it. You might have car passes to get in and out, but there are stil traffic restrictions to negotiate. You might have stewards and security on the front lawn, but it does feel like you’re trapped in your gaff. You may be a bit away from the entrance on Grange Road across from the Lidl and Centra but you can still hear the noise and bass from the festival and that disturbs your peace and quiet.
I live a few streets away from Croke Park and it doesn’t bother me unduly that you’ve matches and concerts nearly every weekend over the summer as the stadium was there and in use for those events long before I arrived in the area. But I can see it does have an adverse effect on neighbours, especially if Bon Jovi or the Dublin hurlers – an increasingly rare sight on Jones Road – are playing.
2,500 Marlay Park residents signed a petition in advance of this year’s run of shows calling for an end to the concerts, a move which had no effect on either the council or the elected representatives. I’m sure these concerns were raised at the compulsory pre-event meeting between the council and promoters in advance of tickets going on sale and I’m sure they were addressed. Perhaps it might be a good move in the future for these pre-event meetings to be held in public, with the promoter and council on hand to address all the questions and complaints from the floor? That might be one way to mediate an agreement between both parties, though I am sure there are some residents who will only accept an outcome which sees a complete end to these concerts.
Residents objecting to concerts is something which we’re seeing more and more home and away. Here in Ireland, we had the G**** B***** omnishambles and we all know what went down there. In London, the long-running Wireless festival in Finsbury Park became a huge bone of contention between the residents and the promoters (the Live Nation-affiliated Festival Republic, who were heavily imvolved in the Marlay Park shows, per the licence appliction). Following well-documented problems at the 2015 event, a group called the Friends of Finsbury Park took an ultimately unsuccessful High Court challenge against the festival.
Speaking about the case, Festival Republic promoter Melvin Benn accused the group of trying to “hijack” the negative publicity from 2015’s event to end festivals in the park. This year’s festival occured earlier in July, and per local reports, there were many complaints from residents about “noise, unruliness on the surrounding streets and a hostile atmosphere for local families” as well as damage to the park, despite assurances from the promoters in advance.
This annual battle between residents and concerts is not something which is going to go away. The former will cite the agent of change principle (ie the residents were there long before the revellers arrived in their thousands) and the fact that a residential, suburban area is no place for live entertainment events of this scale. Those who want to put on the concerts – and those who want to go to them – will argue that it’s a temporary thing and the economic advantages far outweighh the inconvenience. It’s an argument where neither side will budge an inch. Like those heritage bands who trundle into Ireland every year, expect this one to keep coming up in the news cycle in the coming years.