The final outcome to the saga of the "on-off" Garth Brooks gigs is set to go down to the wire as pressure is put on all sides to reach a compromise.
New Environment Minister Alan Kelly has denied reports that he intervened in the dispute and has ruled out such an action on the grounds that it would break planning laws. He said there was no prospect of him introducing emergency legislation as a means of solving the licence problem and he called on those working towards a solution to move forward with a “period of calm engagement”.
“I am legally precluded from intervening in any individual decision made by a planning authority, under section 30 of the Planning and Development Act.
“Reports to the contrary are inaccurate and incorrect. Given our country’s history of political interference in the planning process, this is entirely appropriate,” he said.
His party leader, Tánaiste Joan Burton, indicated yesterday there was still a chance of a resolution, for the 400,000 people with tickets.
Mr Brooks repeated as late as Thursday that he would not be performing unless all five scheduled night-time shows from Friday July 25 to the following Tuesday go ahead.
Ms Burton said her deputy party leader was not intervening in the decision of Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan, who has no legal authority to overturn the decision allowing just three of the five Croke Park gigs proceed. But, she said, the minister could help the manager if he has the capacity to review the decision.
“I’d like to see Garth Brooks coming here. I think there’s still a window in which it may be possible to get it over the line,” Ms Burton told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics.
This optimism has prompted Ticketmaster to delay announcing the details of its refund procedure until negotiations have concluded.
“Ticketmaster will be delaying commencement of the refunds process until Thursday, July 17. We would ask fans to continue to be patient and to hold onto their tickets for now,” the statement said.
But as the concert dates loom fast and with refunds due to begin issuing tomorrow, any resolution will be at the very last minute for all parties involved.
Dozens of the singer’s fans brought their concerns over the debacle to the streets of Dublin on Saturday, protesting outside the GPO on O’Connell Street with placards demanding the full five shows go ahead.
Mr Brooks ruled out a suggested compromise last week — to accommodate 160,000 holders of tickets for the unapproved Monday and Tuesday night gigs with matinee shows on the Saturday and Sunday — as he said the lighting and screens for the concerts have been designed for night-time events and he would let down fans with afternoon shows.
Review of licensing planned once Brooks saga resolved
By Conor Ryan
A full review of the licence regime for major events will be ordered once the debacle surrounding the plan to hold five consecutive gigs in Croke Park is resolved.
Alan Kelly, the new environment minister, said he is anxious that the system be examined to ensure such a “ridiculous” situation never happens again.
He said he would delay the review because he did not want the exercise to be caught up in the current controversy and a long-term solution could be found.
“I am committed to a carrying out a wholesale review of the way major events are handled and this will be progressed in the coming months as opposed to carrying it out in rushed manner that is in neither the interests of concert-goers, residents or the planning system in general,” he said.
Mr Kelly said amending the current legislation just to accommodate the Garth Brooks gigs would expose all of the concerts to potential legal challenge.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said the talks to resolve the current dispute should be handled in a spirit of common sense and compromise.
She said Dublin City manager Owen Keegan had already accepted five gigs were possible, albeit held over three days, but this should be used to make all of the concerts happen as planned.
“In my view, it is now time to get on with it and provide five gigs on five consecutive nights. This is a much safer and more orderly approach to the matinee proposals from the city manager. Common sense should now prevail in an effort to resolve the situation. Those who bought tickets, booked flights and buses, and reserved accommodation would avoid inconvenience and disappointment.”
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