Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

New hope for fans with last-ditch bid to save all Garth Brooks gigs in Dublin

Crucial talks: Garth Brooks
Promoter Peter Aiken

An eleventh hour attempt to save the Garth Brooks concerts could see two of the concerts rescheduled on new dates.

There was fresh hope for fans last night as a top mediator joined talks in a bid to ensure that all five of the sell-out comeback tour dates go ahead.

Kieran Mulvey is trying to persuade Aiken Promotions to make a new application for an event licence in an effort to persuade the US country superstar to return.

One of the options being mooted could mean altering the dates scheduled for Croke Park so there would be a break between the first three concerts and the final two. The rescheduling would mean the final two gigs could take place on July 30 and 31 – the Wednesday and Thursday, rather than the original Monday and Tuesday nights.

The original concerts were scheduled to take place five in a row from July 25-29. This would give Croke Park residents a break, while the Mulvey proposals mean they would also be assured a year free from concerts in 2015.

Mr Mulvey is also keen that Aiken would get assurances that an option for fast-tracking the application without numerous objections is considered, once residents' key concerns are addressed.

The move follows outrage among 400,000 fans who bought tickets and members of the business and tourism industry after Dublin City Council refused to licence two of the five concerts. An estimated 70,000 fans were expected to travel from abroad to the gigs.

In January the country singer announced his first two Irish shows in 17 years. Three more dates were added, but disgruntled local residents complained that it was a breach of the GAA's agreement with them as the venue was already hosting three One Direction gigs.

Last week Dublin City Council gave the green light to just three of the five concerts, and said the planning decision could not be reversed or appealed.

Fears are growing that all five concerts will be cancelled after the American singer warned he would either play five nights or none at all.

The Irish planning laws leave no right to appeal to a higher authority, but Mr Mulvey's new proposals circumvent this by allowing a new application while recognising the previous one cannot be revisited. It is understood it is more likely to be achievable within the timeframe than securing an alternative venue.

Many of the 70,000 planning to travel for the concerts would not be badly put out, although steps would have to be taken to ensure hotels and guesthouses did not hike up prices.

It is understood that the promoter, Aiken, was engaging with Mr Brooks over the weekend to explore all options. A meeting of Dublin City Council is also due to take place today on the issue.

However, the threat of court action to prevent any of the concerts going ahead remains.

Eamon O'Brien, of the Croke Park Streets Committee, said they would be looking at the various legal options open to them.

"There's breach of contract, there's a judicial review and there's an injunction," he said.

How biggest ever concerts turned into a fiasco

Q. How many shows was Garth Brooks scheduled to play at Croke Park in Dublin?

A. He originally planned to play two shows on Friday, July 25 and Saturday, July 26. A third was added and subsequently sold out. Due to unprecedented demand, two extra dates were added, on July 28 and July 27. All five sold out.

Q. When did problems with the five shows first arise?

A. On February 14 it was revealed that Croke Park residents were preparing to seek a High Court injunction if licences were granted for the concerts. At a meeting between the GAA, Aiken Promotions and Croke Park residents, it emerged that a written agreement in 2009, where no more than three concerts a year were to be held at the national stadium, was to be ignored. Peter McKenna, stadium director, told the meeting that "times move on".

Q. How many tickets were bought by fans?

A. In total, up to 400,000 people bought tickets.

Q. And how many residents complained?

A. According to Dublin City Council, 373 complaints were received from residents, residents' groups and businesses.

Q When did the promoters apply for a licence?

A. Aiken Promotions submitted the application on April 17 – 14 weeks before the first concert. Under the current regulations the licence application must be submitted 10 weeks prior to the event.

Q. What happened after it was submitted?

A. On July 1 it was revealed that Dublin City Council had not yet made a decision about the five shows. Two days later, it was announced that permission had been granted for three of the shows – July 25, 26 and 27.

Q. What reasons did the council give for granting permission for three shows?

A. It said "the scale, magnitude and number of the concerts" with an expected attendance of more than 80,000 people per night over five consecutive nights was unprecedented for Croke Park. It also said three shows had already taken place at Croke Park from May 23 to 25 and that a further five shows in such a heavily populated area was "over-intensification" of use of the stadium.

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