New licensing measures seek to prevent repeat of Brooks fiasco

Minister of State says regulations will ensure there will no longer be situation where concert-goers find out just days before that concert was not going ahead

Garth Brooks in Croke Park Dublin last year where he announced details of the first two concerts for July 2014  at that venue. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Garth Brooks in Croke Park Dublin last year where he announced details of the first two concerts for July 2014 at that venue. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Event promoters must hold meetings with local authorities before they advertise or start selling tickets, according to regulations announced by the Government. Minister of State for the Environment Paudie Coffey yesterday set out licensing measures which it is hoped will prevent any repeat of the Garth Brooks fiasco last summer which saw a series of concerts cancelled after additional shows failed to receive a licence.

Mr Coffey said the regulations would ensure there would no longer be a situation where concert-goers found out days before the concert that it was not going ahead. “This is a result of what I called the fiasco that happened last year and the confusion and the uncertainty it brought and it hurt a lot of people,” he said.

Mr Coffey said he would love to see Brooks play in Ireland again.The previous regulations meant the licence pre-application meeting was optional, which paved the way for the five Brooks concerts to be scheduled without the agreement of Dublin City Council.

The revised agreements involve a mandatory meeting taking place and a preliminary risk assessment being carried out. Additional meetings must be carried out with the councils when it is proposed to schedule further concerts.

The Croke Park Area Residents Association expressed disappointment that the regulations would let promoters continue selling tickets for an event before a licence has been granted.

“While we have not yet had time to study the new regulations in detail,” the association’s spokesman Colm Stephens said, “it seems that they are heavily biased of favour of the promoters who can continue to sell tickets for events before any public consultation has taken place or a licence issued.”

A decision from the local authority must be given four weeks before the event. Mr Coffey denied this short time frame could pave the way for the same mistakes to be made. “If tickets are advertised or sold before a pre-consultation phase took place, that event cannot go forward so it cannot happen essentially,” he said. “The previous regulations worked well until the additional concerts came on and the system found it hard to respond.”

A spokeswoman for Aiken, which was promoting the Brooks concerts, said the company would be studying the regulations before making any comment. Dublin was said to have lost up to €50 million due to the cancellation of the concerts and the Dublin Chamber of Commerce said this could never be repeated.

“The Garth Brooks debacle last summer was hugely embarrassing for Ireland and jeopardised our international reputation as a great place to host and attend an event,” chamber chief executive Gina Quin said.

Fine Gael TD Olivia Mitchell said the new licensing regulations would protect residents in the Marlay Park area, where a series of summer concerts are due to be held.

Minister for Tourism Paschal Donohoe also welcomed the move and said the Brooks debacle had the potential to damage the tourist industry.