Direction general Páraic Duffy yesterday disclosed the information as part of his address to the joint Oireachtas communications committee in relation to the five cancelled Garth Brooks concerts there.
A forceful Duffy queried whether the Dublin City Council (DCC) would stand in the way of possible RWC games going ahead on the grounds of too many events taking place there as they cited in making their decision of the Brooks’ gigs.
Duffy said: “The second reason offered (by the DCC) for the refusal of the licence for five concerts was that the Garth Brooks and the One Direction concerts together would have for DCC represented an over-intensification of use for Croke Park. It seems to us that this is an argument employed rather selectively.
“I have to point out that we did not hear anything about over-intensification of the use of Croke Park during the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road when Croke Park was needed to host soccer and rugby internationals, which were of course in addition to Croke Park’s own schedule of match days and concerts. And we know that should the IRFU’s application to host either the 2023 or 2027 Rugby World Cup in Ireland be successful, Croke Park will be required for a total of seven matches again, in addition to Croke Park’s own match days plus its quota of concerts.
“Is there anyone here who seriously imagines that an argument about over-intensification of use of Croke Park be allowed to interfere with these seven Rugby World Cup matches in Croke Park? I think not.”
Duffy stated the cancellation of the concerts would have no major impact on GAA coffers as they had regarded them as “bonus revenue”.
He revealed the GAA had felt confident the extra Brooks’ dates would be granted, considering, among a number of factors, their willingness to make Croke Park available to non-GAA events of national interest in the past.
“In agreeing to Aiken Promotions’ request for two extra concerts in Croke Park, the GAA was conscious of its own tradition of making its stadium available for important events of national significance. Be it the Special Olympics, soccer and rugby internationals and a possible Rugby World Cup. Yes of course the GAA was set to make extra money from the extra concerts but that was exactly the point: it was extra money; bonus revenue we hadn’t allowed for in our budgets and that we’re not dependent upon. We were content with two concerts but a third had already been a bonus.”
Duffy made the significant claim DCC chief executive Owen Keegan had told GAA stadium and commercial director Peter McKenna in a phone call in February he had no issue with the concerts being staged.
The Monaghan man expressed frustration with Keegan’s decision not to allow the GAA “consider and possibly address the grounds for the refusal of the licence for five concerts”.
Duffy also went into detail of the work done by the GAA to foster better relations with the local community. He also highlighted the GAA had requested the opportunity granted by the Oireachtas committee to put their side of the story on the public record.