Outdoor shows to be screened more closely, say gardaí

Wed, Jul 11, 2012, 01:00

OUTDOOR MUSIC concerts are to be more closely screened by gardaí for potential security and public-order risks and dance gigs, like the one held in Dublin’s Phoenix Park on Saturday, may not be permitted, gardaí have said.

Senior gardaí said while concerts were already profiled for security risks and to draw up policing plans, such profiling is likely to become a lot stricter.

“We had three concerts in the park last Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, and from the off the one on Saturday was not open to unaccompanied minors even though the others were,” said a source. “In the future, rather than putting in place a condition like that for concerts where a more troublesome crowd is expected, we may just object to it going on at all.”

Other sources said the crowd of 45,000 at the dance festival headlined by Swedish House Mafia on Saturday was too big to control once trouble flared, adding that the venue was difficult to manage.

“If you’re thinking a crowd might show up that could be harder to control, then have it in a smaller indoor venue where there are gigs all the time and where the security is well drilled.”

Said another source of the venue: “The problem with the park is that it’s near a lot of neighbourhoods that we find hard to control at times. Loads of young people from those areas who had no tickets went to just hang out and drink because it was near where they live and because there was music they liked.”

Concert promoters MCD yesterday went to the Garda’s Dublin Metropolitan Region headquarters for talks with senior officers about what had gone wrong.

Assistant Commissioner John Twomey, in charge of policing in Dublin, and Chief Supt Declan Coburn, in whose Garda division the show was held, were at yesterday’s talks. Sources said it was unlikely any official report would stem from the talks, but MCD and other promoters would find stricter risk assessments being applied to proposed concerts.

Significantly tighter controls on security at large public events will also be legally mandatory from the autumn, the Private Security Authority has confirmed. Séamus Burke, head of individual licensing with the authority, said from the autumn all firms providing security at events would need a licence.

If security was found to be inadequate after an event, the contractor’s licence may be withdrawn.

Promoters MCD said they were “100 per cent” satisfied with the level of security provided, and that a risk-assessment was carried out for all three concerts.

Denis Desmond, chief executive of MCD, said more than 50 per cent more security staff, stewards and gardaí were on duty than had been laid down in the licence.

The maximum number of people at each concert in the licence was 45,500 ticket-holders and 2,500 staff and guests.

A spokesman for Dublin City Council, which granted the licence for the concerts on July 3rd – just two days before the first of them – said one steward per 100 persons was required in a closely-packed site. It was deemed that at these shows this ratio would apply to 65 per cent of the site. It was felt the rest would have a lower occupant density, requiring one steward per 250 persons, he said.

According to these figures, the council required that there be 379 security staff for each concert. MCD has said there were 511 security personnel and 145 gardaí.

Dublin Fire Brigade has confirmed its ambulance service dealt with 45 separate incidents in the Phoenix Park and its immediate environs between 3pm on Saturday and 3am on Sunday.