Five Garth Brooks concerts for Croke Park was ‘misjudged’

Mediator recommends €500,000 fund for community and limits on events up to 2019

Singer Garth Brooks at Croke Park in January, where he first announced details of two concerts. The number was eventually increased to five as the concerts quickly sold out. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Singer Garth Brooks at Croke Park in January, where he first announced details of two concerts. The number was eventually increased to five as the concerts quickly sold out. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Fri, Jun 27, 2014, 10:19

There should never again be four or five concerts held on consecutive nights at Croke Park stadium in Dublin, a report initiated following controversy over the five forthcoming Garth Brooks concerts has said.

Chief executive of the Labour Relations Commission Kieran Mulvey, who acted as mediator between residents and the GAA, which owns the stadium, said the decision to promote five concerts was “misjudged”.

The report recommends, amongst other measures, that a special fund of €500,000 arising from next month’s Garth Brooks concerts be established to benefit the local community.

Mr Mulvey, who held several meetings with local residents, said the “strongly held views” of some stakeholders were “not easily reconcilable”.

But he noted the intensification of the use of the Dublin stadium for concerts, special events and sporting competitions had had a “negative impact on the quality of life of the residents, particularly, but not exclusively, in the inner cordon area”.

“These events cause disruption and inconvenience and have now been increased disproportionately by the holding of a total of eight concerts and and external sporting event in one year (2014). In retrospect the decision to promote five extra continuous nights of concerts was misjudged and was compounded by the way in which they were announced and handled,” the report states.

The report notes a “stalemate” around the position on the number of concerts to be held in the stadium in 2015 and 2016. While the residents had said they would prefer no concerts to be held in those years, Croke Park’s position was that it would adhere to three concerts maximum for both.

Mr Mulvey said he would encourage management at the stadium and event promoters to agree to reduce the number of concerts over the two years.

For the years 2017, 2018 and 2019, there should be a maximum of nine concerts with an average of three a year.

“There may, within this total, be a maximum of four concerts in any one year but in this situation there cannot be more than three nights in succession and the overall total of nine cannot be exceeded,” the report said.

It notes that there may be a special event in 2016 to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. Mr Mulvey said that if the Government requested the use of the stadium for such an event it would be “a unique occasion of national significance”.

He also made recommendations about the finishing times for concerts and said a monitoring and review group should be established under an independent chairperson.

Mr Mulvey said that reiterating the mantra that “we do not trust them” would not contribute to a “new and positive relationship and understanding” between the parties.

“At some stage the central parties/groups involved have to engage in a more beneficial and constructive working arrangement. The parties may not always agree but an opportunity now presents itself to achieve and develop this new beginning and set the past aside.”

In a statement, the GAA said it appreciated the time given to all the parties, including residents’ representatives, the GAA, gardaí, Dublin City Council and all others who “want and desire, like ourselves, to have a more constructive and worthwhile engagement”.

“The GAA engaged wholeheartedly in this process as it wishes to have a better relationship around the planning, holding and licensing of concerts and special events in Croke Park Stadium and therefore accepts the recommendations of the report.”

It welcomed Mr Mulvey’s recommendation for a single representative body for the wider area.

“While the report has financial implications for the GAA, most notably in the number of events and consecutive events that can be held at Croke Park, along with further financial obligations, we accept Mr Mulvey’s recommendations.”

The GAA has agreed to a one-off investment in a legacy project or projects to the value of €500,000 and a 20 per cent increase in the stadium’s annual community fund, bringing that to €120,000 per annum.

It said the fund had already invested over €500,000 in local community projects.

The GAA and Croke Park Stadium were also committed to working with Dublin City Council on the area regeneration and redevelopment project around Croke Villas to incorporate a new GAA club and handball centre through the investment of €11 million.

Director general of the GAA Paraic Duffy said the organisation had certainly made “a number of mistakes” and he was quite happy to apologise for that.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Duffy said the organisation had also done good things for the area around the Croke Park stadium.

He said there had been no concerts at all in Croke Park last year, but he said he accepted that five concerts this year was “too many”.

He said events at Croke Park were an important source of revenue for the GAA and noted that 70,000 tickets for the Garth Brooks concerts had been sold outside Ireland. This meant some 70,000 tourists coming to the country for the events.