Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Gardai blamed for concert trouble

Published 06/09/2012

The concert site where several people were stabbed in separate knife attacks in Phoenix Park in Dublin
The concert site where several people were stabbed in separate knife attacks in Phoenix Park in Dublin

Concert promoters MCD have blamed gardai over trouble at the Phoenix Park gig marred by violence and tragedy.

Nine people were stabbed and 30 arrested at a Swedish House Mafia gig in July, sparking Justice Minister Alan Shatter to order a review. Tragedy also struck when two men died of suspected drug overdoses after the day-long event on July 7.

A Garda probe had accused MCD for not having appropriate security measures in place and for picking the city centre venue for an "electric music" event. However MCD has hit back and claimed gardai should have had a zero tolerance to revellers taking alcohol and drugs in public areas from early morning prior to the gig. Denis Desmond, managing director of MCD Productions, called for a public inquiry.

"The high volume of incidents at the entrance gate search areas and the number of breaches in the perimeter fence were in no small part due to the failure of An Garda Siochana to enforce the law within the Phoenix Park and its environs," the MCD report said.

"The wholesale availability of 'carry-out' alcohol from licensed premises in the area, failure to control consumption of alcohol on public transport services to the event, and the tolerance of consumption of alcohol and antisocial behaviour in public places on the routes to and in the Phoenix Park by An Garda Siochana had an overwhelming adverse affect on the sobriety of the audience seeking to attend the event."

Mr Desmond criticised Mr Shatter for publishing a letter from Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan about the event without any prior notice or feedback - breaching an agreement between the parties. MCD denied claims in the Garda report that officers had not been given enough access to the event control room or CCTV facilities, or that concerns were raised beforehand.

In MCD's own 188 page critical review, it maintained Garda chiefs opted to cut the number of officers on duty from 206 to 145, despite deciding it was of higher risk than other gigs that week. And it accused the gardai of breaches in their duty of care to patrons, staff or the public. "Indeed, the Gardai appeared to have no adequate strategy in place to deal with individuals refused admission to the venue and who were loitering around the vicinity outside the arena," the report said.

MCD said anti-social behaviour was caused by 250 of 45,000 people at the concert, adding that it had 511 security personnel on duty, exceeding the 360 required under the event.

"No number of security personnel (obviously within reason), could have adequately dealt with events on the 7th July 2012 due to the diverse and sporadic nature of the acts of anti-social behaviour when carried out by individuals intent on causing trouble," the report said. "There was a serious lack of respect and disregard for the Gardai and security alike by a certain element of the audience which attitude appeared to have been contributed to by the Gardai's relaxed policing approach adopted earlier in the day outside the venue."

A Garda spokesman said the Garda Commissioner has not yet received an official copy of MCD's review.

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