Promoter rejected ‘olive branch’ of fourth Garth Brooks concert

Enda Kenny says singer’s cancellation could lead to loss of €250m for Dublin

William Spense, Nial Ring, a councillor, and Peter Branigan, who opposed the shows, and Sandra Reid and Susan Mangan, in favour, exchange views outside Croke Park yesterday. Photograph: Alan Betson

William Spense, Nial Ring, a councillor, and Peter Branigan, who opposed the shows, and Sandra Reid and Susan Mangan, in favour, exchange views outside Croke Park yesterday. Photograph: Alan Betson

Wed, Jul 9, 2014, 12:46

An “olive branch” of a potential fourth Garth Brooks concert was offered by Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan but rejected by concert promoter Peter Aiken.

All five performances planned to take place at Croke Park in just over two weeks were cancelled yesterday. More than 400,000 tickets had been sold for the events. Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil that the cancellation marked a potential loss of some €250 million for Dublin.

Mr Keegan was in contact with senior representatives from Aiken Promotions before the council made its decision last week on the event licence application, a council spokesman said.

Little likelihood

Mr Keegan told the promoters there was little likelihood five concerts would be permitted and it was probable licences would be granted for just three.

The promoters advised Mr Keegan that Brooks would not agree to this. Mr Keegan subsequently offered to to discuss with the council planning department the possibility of permitting a fourth concert “if a guarantee was given by the promoter that Garth Brooks would fulfil the four events”, the spokesman said.

However, before Mr Keegan made any approach to the planners, Aiken Promotions responded that unless all five concerts were permitted, Brooks would not appear. “The offer to approach the decision-maker was then withdrawn by the chief executive,” the council said.

The council last night called on the promoters and Brooks to play the three nights.

In the Dáil, Mr Kenny said: “This would appear to have been very badly handled all round. I’m sure this is a great disappointment to his many hundreds of thousands of fans here. It’s a shock to the system in terms of the economy of this city and the reputation of our country and I do hope that these kind of issues can be more efficiently handled on the next occasion that they arise.”

Insurance companies

Mr Aiken has said he was uninsured for the shows because insurers required a licence before providing cover. He said the cancellations would be “not far off” taking down his company.

This morning Mr Aiken said the shows were too “spectacular” to have been staged anywhere other than Croke Park. “We couldn’t have done a cut down version of it,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

He described Dublin City Council’s handling of the matter as “ludicrous” and “unbelievable”. He added that he never got “any indication” that the five shows could not be accommodated.

“They said it was going to have a massive impact and that we needed to put in addionality [more stewards, parking, etc],” he said.

Mr Aiken said the debacle is a “huge blow to me personally, it’s a huge blow to the company”. He said it was “embarrassing” and would lead to financial problems for the firm.

Asked whether Brooks might play Dublin dates later this year, Mr Aiken said no, it’s “game over”.

Labour Relations Commission chief executive Kieran Mulvey, who headed talks aimed at facilitating the events, yesterday said the singer had become “disillusioned” by uncertainty over the events.

There was a mixed reaction last night from residents groups while businesses branded the decision a “fiasco”.