Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Official told GAA he was in favour of Garth Brooks gigs

Brooks booked: Keegan told GAA he favoured five gigs by singer Garth

Dublin City Manager Owen Keegan has admitted telling a senior GAA figure that he was in favour of the plans to stage all five Garth Brooks concerts at Croke Park.

Mr Keegan expressed his support for the proposals in a phone call with stadium director Peter McKenna – just weeks before Dublin City Council revealed that a license for just three concerts was being granted.

The phone call in question, which took place on February 1, has been the subject of a row between the GAA and Dublin City Council this week. While admitting that he told Mr McKenna he was supportive of all five concerts taking place, Mr Keegan yesterday insisted that this did not represent a "firm offer".

Mr Keegan said that he did not warn the GAA or Aiken Promotions that there was a risk the license for five concerts would not be issued because it could open the council up to legal action.

"If I had warned against granting the five concerts, I would have been accused of being prejudicial," he added.

The council chief appeared in front of the Oireachtas Committee for Communications and Transport for the second time this week as the fallout from the Garth Brooks fiasco continues.

Mr Keegan was hauled back in front of the committee again after the GAA claimed it had been assured the concerts would go ahead. Committee chairman John O'Mahony said that there still remains a conflict of evidence between both parties "which can only be resolved in a different forum".

The Fine Gael TD described the Garth Brooks fiasco as an "unholy mess".

Meanwhile, Ticketmaster last night said some 190,000 refunds have already been issued to disappointed customers.

Promoter Peter Aiken said on Wednesday that he was prepared to instigate a judicial review of the decision to only grant three concerts.

The basis for the judicial review was that a large proportion of the objections against the concerts turned out to be fraudulent.

However, Mr Aiken was only prepared to lodge the papers in the High Court if Dublin City Council confirmed that the review would not be contested.

Mr Keegan yesterday said that he would have resigned if he allowed such a process to take place.

He said that by not contesting the judicial review, his credibility would be at stake.

STORY SO FAR

A row over who is to blame for the cancellation of a series of sell-out concerts by country music superstar Garth Brooks has been raging for more than a week. Around 400,000 people bought tickets for the five shows but Dublin City Council would only allow three, causing the singer to pull the plug on the unprecedented residency in Dublin's huge Croke Park stadium this month.

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