No assurances given for five Croke Park shows

The promoters of the Garth Brooks concerts in Croke Park were given no assurances that five shows could go ahead, while the debacle might have been avoided if a formal pre-application consultation had taken place before the tickets went on sale, according to Dublin City Council.

DCC chief executive Owen Keegan yesterday defended the local authority’s role in denying a licence to two of the five planned Brooks shows, all of which were scrapped on Monday night by the singer.

In front of the Oireachtas Joint Transport and Communications Committee yesterday, Mr Keegan said:

- He regretted suggesting the possibility of a fourth concert at one point as, in retrospect, it “undermined” his position;

- He only became aware yesterday that the main decision-maker in the case owns a house near Croke Park;

- Eleven submissions objecting to the concerts appeared to be false and DCC informed gardaí — while “disturbing”, he felt this did not affect the integrity of the process;

- No formal pre-application consultation took place between DCC, Aiken Promotions, and the GAA — and ultimately on the collapse of the concerts, he said: “This was their decision and they must live with the consequences.”

When the tickets went on sale, he said: “The damage was effectively done.”

Mr Keegan said acknowledgements — either via email or by post — were sent to anyone who made a submission, but that the number of allegedly false submissions “raise legitimate questions” over the process. “In light of this particular case, I would have to review this,” he said.

However, he said, even allowing for a certain proportion of letters that might be discounted, there were still “a very significant number” outlining opposition to the concerts and these could not be discounted.

Mr Keegan stressed that the decision was “appropriate, balanced, and reasonable” given the “competing interests” involved, and that the council could not by law review or reopen the decision.

Mr Keegan explained that he had delegated the decision-making in the Brooks application to executive manager Jim Keogan, but admitted he only discovered yesterday that Mr Keogan owned a property in the shadow of Croke Park, in which Mr Keogan’s son now lives.

He said he did not believe this was a conflict of interest, while Mr Keogan also defended his position: “I don’t think it has altered my decision-making or judgment.”

He also said his son had not objected to the Garth Brooks concerts or to any other shows previously staged at the venue.

Mr Keogan said “no verbal assurance or comfort” had been given to Aiken Promotions regarding licensing of five shows and that a phone call from Aiken on January 31 about tickets going on sale for concerts four and five was “a statement of fact. It was just notification of their intention to sell the tickets.”

Fury with hotel over Brooks claim

By Noel Baker

A Dublin hotel which apologised after claiming on social media that the Garth brooks concerts were back on has been subjected to online abuse by furious fans.

The Charleville Lodge Hotel in Phibsboro had posted on its Facebook page that the gigs could be “back on”, not long before Brooks issued a statement to confirm they were off.

The hotel had attributed the claim to a “reliable source”, but when it was confirmed the shows were not going ahead, they posted a Facebook update stating simply “Oops”.

There began a flood of angry and, in some cases, abusive, messages.

Yesterday, the hotel’s Facebook page carried another update, stating: “If we got your hopes up earlier on, we apologise.

“Our source obviously wasn’t as reliable as we were led to believe (perhaps this is why they wanted to remain anonymous).

“However, while we may be personally angry with the source, it will remain protected. We thought the ‘OOPS’ comment earlier would be a light-hearted way of diffusing the already escalating hate mail at the time. Unfortunately it looks like it exacerbated it.”

No one was available for comment at the hotel yesterday.

In an effort to entertain the estimated 70,000 fans who were to travel to Dublin from overseas for the concerts, Tourism Minister Paschal Donohoe will announce details of a “Dublin Goes Country” initiative today in Dublin.

The ‘City & Western’ series of events will take place over the weekend of July 25.

Meanwhile, analysis of social media sentiment surrounding the concert controversy by iReach Analytics shows just 7% of people blame the singer.

Instead, 15% think Aiken Promotions/ GAA should take the blame, 23% think Dublin City Council is at fault, while 55% believe the country is responsible.


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