Government urged to save Garth Brooks gigs with planning laws
Shows may get new dates over six days to save shows with fast-tracked application
Alex Harris (3) , Ballybough, with local residents protesting against the cancellation of any of the Garth Brooks Croke Park concerts at Ballybough, Dublin today. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times
It comes after weekend moves to salvage the concert focused on getting the US singer to commit initially to perform on three occasions, and then allow space over the coming days to determine whether further events can be held.
It is understood some of the ideas being mooted include the fast-tracking of a new application to Dublin City Council for two additional concerts to be held at Croke Park, but with minor changes to the dates.
Some sources have suggested that rather than having five consecutive concerts later this month, there could be a gap of a day between two of the events.
Talks were also ongoing over the weekend between the artist and promoter Peter Aiken to try to resolve the impasse.
Fianna Fail Bill
Fianna Fáil has today published a bill to amend the planning laws which it says would end the Garth Brooks concert “fiasco”.
The party has called on the Government to take up the new legislation which creates an appeals process for when a local authority refuse an events licence.
“ Appeals can be made on economic and tourism grounds, or if the refusal to grant the licence could damage Ireland’s reputation,” Fianna Fail tourism spokesman Timmy Dooley said in a statement.
Mr Dooley said the cancellation of at least two or possibly five concerts was “almost unprecedented” and measures were needed to resolve it.
Current licensing arrangements need to be reviewed and are “no longer fit for purpose” he said.
He urged the Government to allow Dáil time early next week to debate and pass the party’s Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill “so this controversy can be resolved”.
Mr Dooley said the cancellation had a “serious impact” on Ireland’s reputation abroad. Hotels and restaurants faced the prospect of “mass cancellations and lost revenue” he said.
Meanwhile Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary-Lou McDonald said the matter had to be resolved and the timeline was tight. “The ideal scenario is the concerts go ahead in sequence as envisaged,” Ms McDonald said. She was speaking to Newstalk this morning.
Sinn Féin and other councillors are expected to raise the concerts at a scheduled meeting of the city council today.
Last week the council refused licences for two of the five gigs planned for the stadium in three weeks’ time.
Brooks has said he would perform all five concerts in Croke Park - or none of them.
The council has said the licensing decision to reject two of the five concerts “cannot be amended or appealed”. More than 400,000 tickets have been sold for the concerts.
While attempts have been under way to seek to salvage plans for the five concerts, some residents may seek a High Court injunction this week in a bid to prevent the three gigs that have been approved by the council from going ahead.
On the other hand, a group of residents living close to Croke Park held a rally yesterday calling for licences to be given for all five of the concerts.
Some sources said the behind-the-scenes process over the weekend centred on Brooks agreeing to perform the three concerts approved by the local authority, which would provide space for new attempts to be made to secure a licence for two additional dates.
Well-placed sources said this could involve council chief executive Owen Keegan being asked to fast-track new licence applications for two additional concerts “based on new information that has come to light”.
This included a petition signed by about 2,000 local residents calling for the five concerts to go ahead as originally planned.
Sources said council officials could also be asked to take on board concerns that have been raised about the validity of some of the objections submitted originally to the council in relation to the plan for five concerts at Croke Park.