Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Garth Brooks: Croke Park gigs could still go ahead if 'somebody pulls a switch today'

Aiken Promotions considering prospect of judicial review

Garth Brooks on the pitch at Croke Park in January to launch his comeback special
Garth Brooks on the pitch at Croke Park in January to launch his comeback special

Hopes have been raised that the five Garth Brooks concerts could be saved following a meeting of the Oireachtas Committees and Transport Committee.

Aiken Promotions are considering the prospect of a judicial review which the company says is the "only remaining option" that could save the gigs.

The prospect of a judicial review was strongly supported by several member of the committee and the GAA.

The basis for the review is that the councils decision to only grant three concerts was influenced by the large number of objections to the concerts.

But a number of the objections are now at the centre of a Garda investigation amid suspicions that they are fraudulent.

The GAA and Peter Aiken agreed today that in light of the revelations , a judicial review should be considered.

But it will only go ahead if Dublin City Council does not contest it.

Newly appointed Environment Minister Alan Kelly has said he cannot interfere in the process.

Sources say Peter Aiken of Aiken Promotions is likely to make contact with Dublin City Council Manager Owen Keegan later today.

"Aiken and the GAA's case for 5 gigs has been boosted after members of the  committee expressed support for a judicial review," said a source.

Both the GAA and Aiken Promotions today said if a judicial review was "uncontested", the five concerts could be saved.

The committee heard that the GAA and the Croke Park authorities were assured by Dublin City Manager Owen Keegan that the council was fully supportive of plans to stage the five Garth Brooks concert.

The association's chief exeuctive Paraic Duffy today said Croke Park feels "let down" by the decision, adding that the move has resulted in a "self inflicted wound on the country".

Addressing the Oireachtas Communications committee today, Mr Duffy said the integrity of the council's decision making process was "undermined" by the fact it was influenced by the large number of bogus complaints.

Significantly, Mr Duffy told TDs that he and his officials were given no indication that the plans for five concerts were at risk of being scuppered.

"I must state that at no point did DCC even hint that a license would not be granted for all five concerts," he said.

Mr Duffy insisted that it was the Irish people who decided that there should have been five concerts and not two.

"What had simply been a night out, became an unmissable national celebration," he said.

He added that he is concerned Croke Park may now be seen as a "big organisation bullying the little man".

Peter Aiken of Aiken Promotions will also address the committee today in relation to the concerts fiasco.

Meanwhile, Peter Aiken gave fresh insight into the last ditch negotiations aimed at salvaging the five gigs.

He said that he sought agreement from the council on the prospect of a judicial review of the decision. However, Mr Keegan said it was an option he was not willing to consider.

Mr Aiken also told the committee that the option proposed by Dublin City Council for Garth Brooks to perform two concerts in October was not feasible.

The music promoter said the dates would interfere with the singer's world tour.

"It was impossible for Garth to accept this proposal as he was committed to his world tour which is due to start in Chicago on September 4 and was already scheduled to perform elsewhere on the dates suggested," he said.

"Garth treats his fans equally and fairly and therefore, could not treat 160,000 people who had bought tickets for the 4th & 5th Shows differently to the fans who had bought for the first 3 nights so his position would have to be that it was 5 Shows or nothing," Mr Aiken added.

Timeline: How the fiasco unfolded

January 20: Garth Brooks announces he will return to Croke Park for two nights in July as part of his comeback tour. The singer flies into Dublin to make the announcement, nearly 16 years after he last played sell-out concerts at the venue.

January 30: Around 240,000 tickets for three dates sell out in just 90 minutes. Tickets went on sale at 9am for two concerts on July 25 and 26. A third date went on sale at 9.30am due to demand and also sold out. In Dungannon fans had been camping outside Stewart's music store in the town a full five days before tickets went on sale.

January 31: Tickets for the sold-out gigs are being flogged on eBay for up to £500 each, it emerges.

February 6: A fourth and fifth date quickly sell out.

February 7: It emerges Croke Park has yet to ask authorities for permission to host any of Brooks' summer concerts. Meanwhile, disgruntled residents in the Croke Park vicinity say they were not consulted by concert organisers over the extra dates.

February 14: Residents reveal they are considering legal action against the organisers over the likely disruption.

March 6: Amid a growing row between residents and organisers, the GAA asks the chief executive of the Labour Relations Commission to chair mediation talks between the two sides.

July 1: Dublin City Council says it has received about 370 submissions from residents, businesses and other parties while it considers the licence application, which, it says, was lodged on April 17.

July 3: The council refuses licences for two gigs, granting permission for just three of the five planned concerts. It says five concerts would cause "an unacceptable level of disruption". Promoter Peter Aiken says he is hopeful but not optimistic that all five will go ahead. Garth Brooks warns it is five shows or none at all: "To choose which shows to do and which shows not to do, would be like asking to choose one child over another."

July 4: A decision to refuse permission for two of the gigs cannot be changed or reversed, Dublin City Council says.

July 5: Peter Aiken says moving the dates or venues is not an option as crisis talks continue.

July 8: All five concerts are cancelled. Aiken Promotions says it is with "great regret" that it has to make the announcement.

July 9: Garth Brooks fiasco reaches leaders' questions in the Dail. And emergency meetings are held with Dublin City Council while Ticketmaster release details of the ticket refund process.

July 10: Garth Brooks holds a live press conference in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Here he addresses the Ireland saga. He said: "If the Prime Minister (Taoiseach) himself wants to talk to me, I will crawl, swim or fly over there this weekend and sit in front of him," the star pleaded."I will drop to my knees and beg." That evening there was a proposal from Dublin City Council for Brooks to perform three night-time and two matinees instead. But within hours of saying he would do whatever it takes to put on the gigs, Brooks said the proposal "cannot possibly compare" to five separate night concerts.

July 11: Croke Park residents were incensed after Dublin City Council offered Garth Brooks' two additional matinee concerts.

July 14: Garth Brooks confirms his Croke Park concerts will not go ahead despite an offer to push back some of the shows until later in the year.

July 16: Hopes have been raised that the five Garth Brooks concerts could be saved following a meeting of the Oireachtas Committees and Transport Committee.

Further Reading

Garth Brooks: Gardai suspect up to 40 per cent of objections to Croke Park concerts are forgeries

Garth Brooks: 'Crushed' singer pulls plug on Croke Park concerts 

Brooks refunds delayed amid talks

Garth Brooks to Taoiseach: Save my Croke Park gigs 

Garth Almighty: A profile of the country music legend 

Garth Brooks: Surreal meeting with the Elvis of our generation 

Brooks rejects five-gig compromise 

Garth Brooks: Croke Park residents angry over matinee concert offer 

Garth Brooks 'sceptical' about Dublin City Council proposal for matinee concerts 

Garth Brooks: Star's last-gasp plea sparks a behind-the-scenes flurry over Croke Park concerts

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