Garth Brooks: ‘For us, it is five shows or none at all’

Singer has faith ‘Dublin City Council will make the best decision for the people of Ireland’

Garth Brooks in Croke Park in Dublin last January to announce details of a number of concerts this month. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Garth Brooks in Croke Park in Dublin last January to announce details of a number of concerts this month. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Thu, Jul 3, 2014, 22:55

Singer Garth Brooks tonight told the 400,000 people who have bought tickets for his Irish concerts that he will play five shows in Dublin or none at all.

In a statement issued after Dublin City Council refused to licence two of the five concerts; those due to be held on July 28th and 29th, Brooks said: “For us, it is five shows or none at all.”

“To choose which shows to do and which shows not to do, would be like asking to choose one child over another. However this plays out, Ireland has my heart and always will.”

Licence decision notice

The singer thanked Irish people for making him feel welcome and said he had “faith that Dublin City Council will make the best decision for the people of Ireland”.

Earlier promoter Peter Aiken warned all the Brooks concerts were at risk of cancellation following the council’s decision.

Speaking to RTÉ Mr Aiken said he had been in contact with Brooks but no solution had been found to the issues surrounding reducing the number of shows planned.

“It’s up in the air. That’s the honest to God answer. I can’t turn around and say the three shows are going to happen.”

The nature and scale of the shows planned was such that it would take five shows to “get it right” Mr Aiken said.

He added that their scale also meant that it would not be possible to use another venue for the two concerts which cannot now be held in the Croke Park Stadium. “It’s a one off show ...we can’t strip that down and move to another venue.”

Mr Aiken said he or members of his staff had been in daily contact with the city council and had been given no indication there would be problem with running five concerts.

The council said it was refusing permission for two of the five concerts over fears of noise, traffic disruption, illegal parking and “potential antisocial behaviour”.

The “scale, magnitude and number” of concerts, with an expected attendance of in excess of 80,000 people per night over five consecutive nights, three of them being week nights, was “unprecedented” for Croke Park Stadium, the council said.

Licences have been granted for just three concerts on July 25th, 26th and 27th.

The concerts on the 28th and 29th of the month will not proceed.

About 160,000 concert-goers will be affected by the cancellation of the two concerts.

It appears unlikely that the cancelled concerts can be relocated to another venue as planning laws require an application to be made ten weeks before an event.

Some 400,000 tickets for the five concerts were snapped up within days when they went on sale earlier this year.

In its decision the council noted that three consecutive concerts have already taken place in Croke Park, the One Direction concerts held in May.

It said Croke Park was situated in a heavily populated residential area and that five shows in a row following the three concerts earlier this year was an “over intensification” of use of the stadium for special events.

“It would be in effect permitting an increase of 100 per cent in terms of the maximum number of concerts that had previously been held in Croke Park in any given year since the redevelopment of the stadium.”

A total of 373 submissions were received from members of the public on the licence application, the council said.

The cumulative effect on residents and on some businesses in the Croke Park and surrounding neighbourhoods, of licensing five shows in a row, three of them on weekdays, would lead to an “unacceptable level of disruption” to their lives and livelihoods over an “unprecedented and prolonged period caused by, concert related noise, access restrictions, traffic disruption, illegal parking and potential antisocial behaviour,” it said.

“The City Council would also be concerned with the precedent that would be created if five consecutive concerts in a row of this scale were licensed.”

It is the first time licences for concerts at the stadium have been refused.

Solicitor Anthony Fay, who is the legal representative for many of the Croke Park resident groups, said residents would meet tonight to decide how to proceed on the negotiations about the concert.

“They need to consider the decision carefully and way up the pros and cons and see where they want to go,” he said.

“It’s an unmitigated disaster in the sense we wouldn’t be in this situation if they had prior consultation with residents.”

He said serious questions had to be asked about how the decision to hold five concerts without consultion with residents and businesses was reached.

Croke Park Streets Committee chairman Eamon O’ Brien said residents would be guided by legal advice on their next action.

“It is surprising in the sense if two are not right why are the other three right?” he said.

“For the moment it has vindicated everything that we’ve been saying.”

Mr O’ Brien said he believed it was not be possible to move the concerts to another event such as Aviva because under the Planning and Development Act 2000, it was necessary for an application to be made 10 weeks ahead of the event.

Many of the hundreds of objections refer to a planning regulation granted by An Bord Pleanala in March 1993 during the redevelopment of Croke Park .

This stated: “The number of special events such as concerts, conventions or exhibitions shall not exceed three per annum.”

The three One Direction concerts staged at the stadium last weekend used up the allowance for this year, residents claim.

Councillor Nial Ring agreed the two banned concerts could not be staged at the Aviva on the same dates, while meeting the planning requirement for 10 weeks’ notice.

Cllr Ring said the decision of Dublin City Council to restrict the Garth Brooks concerts at Croke Park to three concerts was a “lose-lose situation” for both residents 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” he said.

Labour Relations Commissioner chief executive Kieran Mulvey, who is mediating talks between residents and Croke Park/GAA, said he had been involved in three meetings on the issues.

Mr Mulvey recently released a report and said the “strongly held views” of some stakeholders were not easy to reconcile.

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”.

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