Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Council boss changed mind on shows

Owen Keegan, Dublin City Council chief executive, has been talking about the Garth Brooks concerts fiasco
Owen Keegan, Dublin City Council chief executive, has been talking about the Garth Brooks concerts fiasco

The chief executive of Dublin City Council has revealed he changed his mind over support for country music star Garth Brooks' five night comeback concerts.

Owen Keegan - called to account for a second time in a week for refusing to license the extravaganza - said the GAA and Aiken Promotions were to blame for the flop after not acting on residents' concerns.

The city boss said their failure to take on board worries and complaints from local people was a crucial issue and prompted him to switch from initially backing the unprecedented shows in February to license only three in July.

"I fully accept that I did indicate that I would support the five," Mr Keegan said.

The city planning chief accepted he had a phone call with Peter McKenna, director of Croke Park, on February 2 and said he was positive about the idea of the five night run at GAA headquarters.

Four of the shows had been announced when the call came in.

He told a parliamentary committee that he did not give any assurances that all five shows would be licensed.

"Given the economic value of this to the city if I refuse to take the phone call or say we are totally opposed to this and you will never get a licence I would have been accused of undermining a major event," he said.

"I would always work on the basis in a positive way to try and encourage people."

Mr Keegan said he made it clear two issues were to be decided on - making sure there were no issues with the three One Direction gigs in Croke Park at the end of May and what he called the "crucial issue" of residents.

"It would be my view that what subsequently emerged through the licensing period that there was a failure to deal with the legitimate concerns (of residents)," the city boss said.

Mr Keegan added: "There was a single failure to do it in this case and that became evident during this licensing process."

Two thirds of the 384 submissions made to the city council over the Brooks shows have been found to be legitimate, the inquiry heard.

The city boss dismissed suggestions that he had considered allowing Aikens to launch a judicial review of the licensing decision in the High Court uncontested on Wednesday evening.

Mr Keegan said doing so would see him lose all credibility and he would have resigned.

The refunding of 400,000 ticketholders is under way.

The fiasco has sparked warnings from business figures that the Dublin economy is losing out on a 50 million euro windfall.

The Oireachtas transport committee is examining the fallout from the scuppered comeback shows.

Mr McKenna told the second of three hearings this week that he would swear under oath he was led to believe there would be no problems in getting the licences.

Dublin City Council chiefs have claimed they were willing to look at compromises on three separate occasions after initially blocking two of the five planned shows.

This included a four-night run, an option to stage three concerts at Croke Park and two elsewhere in the capital or a third idea for two matinees and three night-time shows over the same weekend.

Mr Keegan said he remains adamant that the original decision to grant a licence for only the Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the end of July was balanced, appropriate and reasonable.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz