Brooks decision a ‘lose-lose’ for residents and concert goers

Punchestown and Páirc Uí Chaoimh suggested as alternative venues

 Solicitor Anthony Fay and  Eamon O’Brien at a Croke Park Streets Committees Association Ltd & Croke Park Community & Handball Centre press conference in relation to the Garth Brooks concerts. Photograph:  Collins

Solicitor Anthony Fay and Eamon O’Brien at a Croke Park Streets Committees Association Ltd & Croke Park Community & Handball Centre press conference in relation to the Garth Brooks concerts. Photograph: Collins

Thu, Jul 3, 2014, 18:26

The decision by Dublin City Council to refuse planning permission for two Garth Brooks concerts at Croke Park has been described as a “lose-lose” scenario for residents around the stadium and concert goers.

“Local residents are pleased that their position, frustrations and concerns were taken into account by the Planning Department but the impact on concert goers must also be taken into account” said councillor Nial Ring, after it was confirmed that the concerts on July 28th and 29th will not now proceed.

Mr Ring added that the planning legislation – which requires ten weeks notice for a concert – meant they could not be relocated to the Aviva on the same dates.

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Brooks, who retired from recording new music and touring in 2001, chose Dublin for his five-night ‘Comeback Special Event’, selling a record 400,000 tickets, equivalent to almost 10 per cent of the population, ahead of a wider tour later this year.

Many people queued for days to secure the tickets.

“I queued for two days and two nights for these tickets. I’m so annoyed, it’s just terrible,” Carol McDonald, who had bought a ticket July 29th told RTÉ’s LiveLive. “It’s making a show of Ireland, he (Garth Brooks) is probably over in America saying ‘what the hell’s going on’.”

Colm Stephens, who chaired a public meeting “Stop the Croke Park Concert Madness” on Tuesday, said while he welcomed the decision to refuse two concerts, residents would still protest next Monday outside City Hall before the next council meeting over the decision to grant permission for the other three concerts.

“The reasons given by the council in disallowing the fourth and fifth Garth Brooks concerts are equally valid for the first three as well,” he said.

“We’re sticking to our position that three concerts in any year is more than enough.

“If we had real consultation and genuine engagement we could have avoided last minute decisions like this. It’s a terrible inconvenience for people. We’re really conscious of that.”

Solicitor Anthony Fay who is representing a number of local residents in their dispute with Croke Park regarding the concerts said his clients are reserving their position until a public meeting on the matter is held.

“This was an ill-thought out venture by Croke Park and the promoters who went behind the backs of the community, breaking previous agreements and trying to force additional concerts on people that they didn’t even have a license for”

Commenting on the effect this would have on Garth Brooks fans Mr Fay said: “It was irresponsible of the promoters to sell tickets to the fans ‘Subject to License’ and expect to profit from it.

He said it also appeared to “illogical” for the promoters to expect the council simply rubber stamp their proposals.

“I’ve already been contacted by a number of disaffected fans who are considering taking action against the promoters for the losses and inconvenience this has caused them”.

Fan Avril De Loughry, who bought tickets for each of the five concerts, said she has now given two of her tickets to concerts that are going ahead to her friends who have tickets for those concerts that have been refused permission. “I’m disgusted. It’s understandable in some way but it would be really great for Dublin if all five had gone ahead,” he said. “But if all five shows are cancelled that would just be embarrassing for us as a country.”

Minister of State for Tourism Michael Ring said: “Croke Park knew the rules and regulations when they were booking these concerts. They knew the amount of concerts they could have. And the planning laws in this country have to be obeyed by everybody.”

A number of venues have indicated a willingness to host the concerts, should planning and other obstacles be overcome.

Punchestown racecourse said it would be delighted to accommodate the cancelled

Garth Brooks concerts, and said that the local statutory authorities and stakeholders “are extremely supportive of concerts”.

The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) said the cancellations would have an extremely negative impact on Ireland’s image abroad as a tourist destination.

Federation president Stephen McNally said the situation was avoidable and will “damage Ireland’s tourism brand - something tourism businesses and bodies invest significant resources to promote in overseas markets.”

Fine Gael Cork North Central TD Dara Murphy said the GAA had confirmed that Páirc Uí Chaoimh is available to host the cancelled concerts which have been cancelled in Dublin after Dublin City Council refused to grant licences for two out of the five planned gigs.

“Páirc Uí Chaoimh is available on the nights in question; the 28th and 29th of this month. Thousands of people will have made arrangements to travel to the concerts; in many cases they may be coming from abroad with hotels booked and flights paid for. An alternative venue must be found.”

He added that the stadium was not in a residential area.