Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Council cancels Garth Brooks dates

Two of the Garth Brooks comeback dates at Croke Park stadium, Dublin, have been cancelled by the the city council

A furore has erupted in Ireland over the refusal of city chiefs to allow two concerts by country music superstar Garth Brooks go ahead as planned this month.

An estimated 160,000 fans have been left devastated after Dublin City Council granted permission for only three out of five gigs at the capital's Croke Park this month.

The unprecedented run of nights was expected to draw diehard fans of the biggest-selling singer in country music history from throughout Ireland, UK, Europe, North America and Australia.

Brooks turned his back on touring to raise his family in Oklahoma 13 years ago and his comeback sent ripples throughout his worldwide fanbase. It has also fuelled fevered rumours of a global tour.

But in a ruling - that can not be directly appealed but may be open to challenge in the courts - Dublin City Council ruled that a five-night run at Croke Park would cause unacceptable disruption to residents and traders around the stadium.

Licences were granted for three nights only, on July 25, 26 and 27.

Residents had threatened legal action over the series of gigs after an initially announced two night run was extended to five.

Croke Park is owned by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) which has yet to issue a statement on the row, along with promoters Aiken Promotions.

Suggestions the cancelled gigs could be switched to the Irish capital's Aviva stadium were dismissed as not feasible because of the sheer amount of equipment that would have to be moved.

Several other regional stadiums have thrown their hat in the ring for any alternative plans.

Hoteliers, business leaders and even a government minister have weighed into the debate which dominated national airwaves, with various sides backing the rights of the residents and other decrying the loss to Ireland's economy and tourism reputation.

Junior Trade Minister Joe Costello supported the controversial decision to restrict the concerts.

"It is good news for the local community that permission has been refused for two of the proposed Garth Brooks concerts," he said.

"Holding concerts for five nights in a row would have been unprecedented, and it would have caused intolerable disruption to the local residents."

But Dublin Chamber of Commerce described the resulting fall out as a fiasco which could cost the capital city tens of millions of euro.

"Ireland is known worldwide as a place that can stage world class events but the uncertainty around the Garth Brooks concerts threatens that reputation," said Dublin Chamber chief executive Gina Quin.

The State's National Consumer Council has insisted fans are due their money back where a concert is cancelled while Irish Rail has vowed to fully refund everyone who bought tickets for specially laid on services which will have to be axed.

Brooks's career saw him named the number one selling solo artist in US history, shifting more than 128 million albums and receiving countless industry accolades.

Despite ending his career at its peak he has made a few select performances, including in 2008 when he headlined President Barack Obama's inauguration at the Lincoln Memorial.

Brooks issued a statement from the US to warn that the prospect of only holding three of the sold-out gigs was not likely.

"I can't thank the people of Ireland enough for how welcome they have made me feel.

"I have faith Dublin City Council will make the best decision for the people of Ireland.

"For us, 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. However this plays out, Ireland has my heart and always will."

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