Dáil transport committee to discuss Garth Brooks concerts

Owen Keegan raised concern about GAA affiliations of members

Garth Brooks in Croke Park in January. The American country singer had planned to play five concerts at Croke Park later this month. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Garth Brooks in Croke Park in January. The American country singer had planned to play five concerts at Croke Park later this month. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Sat, Jul 12, 2014, 01:00

Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan has agreed to appear before an Oireachtas transport and communications committee next Tuesday to discuss the Garth Brooks Croke Park concerts.

However, Mr Keegan has raised concerns about potential links between committee members and the GAA.

The American country singer had planned to play five concerts at Croke Park from Friday, July 25th to Tuesday, July 29th – 400,000 tickets were sold for the events last January and February. Aiken Promotions applied for licences for the five nights in April. However, Dublin City Council last week issued licences for the first three concerts only.

Brooks said he would perform five concerts or none at all, and, last Thursday, he rejected a proposal to hold two of the concerts as matinees.

On Wednesday, committee chairman John O’Mahony invited representatives of the council, Aiken Promotions and the GAA to attend a meeting (scheduled for yesterday FRI) to answer questions in relation to the “chain of events” that led to the cancellation of the concerts.

“The Committee shadows the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and is gravely concerned at the damage to Ireland’s reputation caused by the cancellation of the concerts,” Mr O’Mahony said.

However, on Thursday night the committee issued a statement saying the meeting would be postponed until a later date to allow “the space for negotiations to continue unimpeded”.

The meeting is now scheduled to hear from Mr Keegan on Tuesday in relation to the licensing issue. Aiken Promotions and the GAA are scheduled to attend a separate committee meeting on Wednesday.

Mr Keegan has agreed to attend the meeting accompanied by the executive manager who issued the licences for the concerts Jim Keogan, but has written to the secretary of the committee in relation to its make-up.

In his letter sent yesterday, he points out that the GAA had a financial interest in the concerts going ahead and asked whether there were committee members who were also members or officers of the GAA and whether they would be required to absent themselves from the meeting. It is understood that Mr Keegan’s letter has been circulated to all members of the committee.

Mr O’Mahony is a Mayo football player, the former manager of the Mayo, Galway and Leitrim senior football teams. He last night said he was still a member of the GAA, though not an officer.

“I am a member of Ballaghaderreen GAA club, but I presume half the committee are members of the GAA. If being a member of a local voluntary organisation ruled you out of sitting on a committee, I don’t think there’d be many Oireachtas members on any committee.”

He said he did not intend to withdraw from the meeting and would chair it in a fair and impartial manner. The purpose of the committee was “not a witch hunt” he said, but to learn lessons so a similar situation did not arise.

He added that he did not think the matinee option would have worked. “It would be like playing two All-Irelands in the one day.”

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