Aiken ‘hopes to avoid court’ over refusal of Garth Brooks concerts

Promoter is ‘bewildered’ by council’s refusal and backs star’s ‘five shows or none’ stance

Garth Brooks: mediator Kieran Mulvey has suggested the five concerts could go ahead and no concerts be held at Croke Park in 2015. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Garth Brooks: mediator Kieran Mulvey has suggested the five concerts could go ahead and no concerts be held at Croke Park in 2015. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Sat, Jul 5, 2014, 01:00

Concert promoter Peter Aiken has said he hopes to avoid legal action over Dublin City Council’s decision to refuse two of the five Garth Brooks concerts planned for Croke Park this month.

A final decision on the fate of the concerts will have to be made early next week, Mr Aiken said, as work on the infrastructure for the gigs was already under way at the stadium.

Mr Aiken last night said he remained “bewildered” by Dublin City Council’s decision to refuse licences for two concerts. He said he hoped sense would prevail and legal action could be avoided.

“In 53 years of our company we’ve only been in court once . . . I hope common sense prevails and we don’t end up there.” He said while he still sought a solution, he and the singer’s management had yet to see “any light at the end of the tunnel”.

Brooks has said he would perform all five concerts in Croke Park or none at all. Mr Aiken said he had come to the conclusion this was the right decision.

“I can see how he had a vision for five and that it is all or nothing for him. It can’t be moved to another venue – the show is specific to Croke Park. The more I listen to him, the more I understand where he is coming from.”

 

‘Blow to fans’

Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar said the cancellation of the concerts would be a “blow to fans and visitors coming from abroad”. He said the decision on the licence was made by Dublin City Council, and there was “no provision in law for it to be appealed or overturned other than by the courts”.

 

The way events unfolded was “clearly unsatisfactory from everyone’s point of view” and highlighted the need to review the major events licensing laws.

Mr Varadkar said the onus was on the promoters to ensure that the other two concerts were rescheduled or relocated. “There were only supposed to be three concerts when the tour was first advertised, and I see no reason why these should not now proceed.” Residents had “legitimate concerns”, he said.

Chief executive of the Labour Relations Commission Kieran Mulvey said Ireland’s reputation was “in shreds” because of the “debacle”.

Mr Mulvey had chaired a mediation process between residents and Croke Park to try to resolve issues surrounding the concerts. He said the decision to seek five concerts was “misjudged and badly handled”, and he said he was unable to reach agreement with the residents on a way forward. However, he said something needed to be done immediately to save Ireland’s reputation.

“The city has lost, the country has lost, out reputation is in shreds over this in terms of international concerts.” He suggested that all five concerts could go ahead and the GAA as a reciprocal gesture apply for no concerts in 2015.

 

‘Losers’

Sinn Féin, the largest party on the council, has called on chief executive Owen Keegan to intervene and reverse the decision. Group leader Cllr Séamus McGrattan said “the fans who bought tickets should not be the losers in this”.

 

“The whole process has been a mess. There has been a breakdown in communication and trust between the local community and Croke Park going back over a number of years.” Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke has appealed to Brooks to go ahead with the three concerts.

“I hope he will go ahead with the three concerts. He says Ireland has his heart so I hope he will follow his heart and Ireland will also have his presence.”

The decision made by the council management could not be reversed, he said.

He said his door was open to the singer, and his office would facilitate him in any way possible, but he said: “I hope that Garth Brooks is not issuing threats, and he would change his mind and do the three concerts”.

Irish Tourist Industry Confederation chief Eamon McKeon said the issuing of tickets for which there was no licence had to stop, but the blame for the current situation lay with the council, he said.

“This is a case of sheer maladministration by the council who left it until the last minute to make a decision. They may have only got the licence application in the last couple of months, but they knew about these concerts since January. Surely someone could have used their heads and told the promoters five wasn’t on.”

A number of residents have signed a petition seeking permission to be given for all five concerts.