Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Garth Brooks gig fiasco: Key council official owns house near Croke Park

Croke Park towering over houses in north Dublin
Croke Park towering over houses in north Dublin
No shows: Garth Brooks

Fresh controversy has erupted in Dublin over the Garth Brooks concerts shambles.

Irish parliamentarians have now levelled allegations of a conflict of interest on the part of a senior Dublin City Council official who played a central role in the process.

The council's head of planning and economic development Jim Keogan stunned TDs yesterday when he revealed that he owns a property in the vicinity of Croke Park.

It emerged that the senior official had not told Dublin City Manager Owen Keegan that he has a property in Clonliffe Gardens, which is currently occupied by his son and daughter-in-law.

Several TDs last night said that Mr Keogan should have removed himself from the licensing process due his family and property connections in the vicinity of Croke Park.

Mr Keogan denied that there was a conflict of interest.

"I don't think it has altered my decision-making and judgment in relation to the proposed application before me.

"I didn't hear it being said in 2009 when I was the relevant officer who signed off on the very controversial U2 concerts that year," he said.

"I had to deal with the issue. The people I grew up with raised them with me but I felt that I dealt with it in a fair and balanced manner, as I have in this instance as well. I don't think there is any prejudice there."

Ironically, the alleged conflict of interest was revealed just days after Mr Keegan had suggested that members of the committee were compromised over their GAA connections.

He wrote to the committee on Friday suggesting that members should consider absenting themselves from the hearing if they were members or officers of the GAA. He has since apologised for any offence caused as a result of the letter.

Fianna Fail's transport spokesman Timmy Dooley said: "In light of the what has transpired and the potential that a conflict of interest has arisen, there are now grounds for Environment Minister Alan Kelly to announce a judicial review into this whole affair."

Mr O'Donovan said it was clear that Mr Keogan should have absented himself from the entire licensing process.

"It is remarkable that this did not happen and even more extraordinary that Owen Keegan only became aware of the connection during the committee hearing," he added.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Keegan said he saw "no difficulty" with Mr Keogan's property, despite only learning of it at the meeting.

Mr Keogan insisted that his son and daughter did not submit an objection to the concerts or any previous concerts.

Mr Keegan has refused to accept any blame for the concerts fiasco that has left 400,000 fans in limbo.

He said the decision taken was "fair, reasonable and balanced".

A festival to offset the loss is planned.

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