Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Answers demanded over Brooks fiasco

Garth Brooks has pulled out of all five of his comeback concerts in Croke Park after residents objected
Garth Brooks has pulled out of all five of his comeback concerts in Croke Park after residents objected

City chiefs, concert promoters and stadium owners are being summoned before a parliamentary watchdog about the Garth Brooks comeback special fiasco in Ireland.

As 400,000 fans worldwide await details about ticket refunds after the country music star pulled out of the shows, parliamentarians said they wanted to question all sides involved as early as tomorrow.

Dublin City Council, Aiken Promotions and the Gaelic Atheltic Association (GAA), which owns the Croke Park stadium in Dublin where the gigs were to be held, are being ordered before the Oireachtas Transport Committee over the affair.

Patrick O'Donovan, an elected representative of the Government party Fine Gael and member of the parliamentary watchdog, said TDs (MPs) and senators wanted to get to the bottom of what went wrong.

"Four hundred thousand people have been inconvenienced and thousands, who had booked flights or hotels, will be out of pocket, due to this decision," he said. "Fingers have been pointing in every direction over the past few days, people are angry and they are bitterly disappointed."

Irish premier Enda Kenny yesterday said Brooks' decision to pull out of the extravaganza after being granted permission for just three out of five planned gigs was a shock to the system.

The top selling US singer, who turned his back on touring to raise his family in Oklahoma 13 years ago, had issued an all-or-nothing ultimatum last week, saying he would play the five nights or none at all.

The star said to choose one show over another "would be like asking to choose one child over another".

Promoters are expected to release details today of refunds for ticket holders left out of pocket.

Mr Kenny has claimed the cancelled concerts could cost the Irish capital in the region of 250 million euro (£199m).

Selling agent Ticketmaster issued guidance for customers who are seeking refunds and said all payments will be automatic or made within three weeks of an application.

Keith English, managing director of the company, said: "We understand the disappointment of Garth Brooks fans. Having reviewed the huge task at hand, we believe the process we have outlined is the simplest and most efficient for fans.

"The scale of this operation is unprecedented and therefore we would ask customers to continue to be patient."

Ticketmaster said for tickets purchased over the phone, online or mobile, no action is required as money paid out, including service charges, will be returned in full automatically to card accounts used to make the purchase.

For people who bought tickets in person from agents, they should be handed in to the ticket centre with a completed refund form and the money will be paid back by bank transfer within 21 days.

If customers seek a refund by post, they can print a form from ticketmaster.ie/gbrefunds and return it along with the tickets to PO Box 4695, Dublin 2, and again a refund will be made in 21 days of receipt of the documents.

In the Dail (parliament) today, the cancelled concerts dominated leader's question time, with opposition Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin appealing for emergency legislation to be passed to rescue the comeback special.

"Surely the Government should have intervened at some stage in this debacle," he said.

"Many hoteliers, restaurant owners, publicans, young people looking for work, simply can't believe that the country can almost nonchalantly say we don't need that."

Mr Martin said there is an air of disbelief across the country that a major economic project in its own right has been allowed to be cancelled.

It was not beyond the parliament to pass emergency legislation to give a clear signal that Ireland deals hands-on with events that have such an economic impact, he said, adding that his party would back such legislation.

"Is anybody going to do anything about it? Can it be retrieved and can it be rescued?" he asked.

But Mr Kenny said the Government risked being accused of "doing down" the rights of residents around Croke Park and interfering with the planning process if it intervened.

Describing the fall-out as a "bitter economic lesson to have learned", the Taoiseach said he has ordered a review of the planning process for major events.

"It's a major loss to the country, to the goodwill and good feeling of all those fans of Garth Brooks that this is lost, not to mention the hard economic loss to people here," he said.

"It's a mess."

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