Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Tale so tragic Garth Brooks could probably write song about it

In limbo: Garth Brooks
In limbo: Garth Brooks

The Republic entered a strange, vaguely psychotic mindscape last week, which reminded us that, no matter how bad things may be, or how good, we will still find the time to engage in demented, hysterical rows that start in a vaguely civilised fashion before descending into a barrage of name-calling and hissy fits.

In fact, the collective mental breakdown caused by Dublin City Council's decision to allow only three of the five planned Garth Brooks concerts at Croke Park captured a strange skill: the ability to look a gift horse in the mouth and promptly turn it into a burger. It's amazing how quickly everybody became an accountant when the announcement was made – these five shows would have earned the Republic €50m (£40m). Or was it €80m (£63m)? Or was that €50m only lost from the two pre-booked but now cancelled gigs? Or was that for all the shows?

Frankly, I was half-expecting Garth himself to make an appearance on the radio to tearfully inform us that he had actually planned to personally visit every household in the country and give them 50 quid each.

But the decision now meant that he would instead divert those funds into an extraordinary rendition of all the officials who put the kibosh on the event.

Let's be very clear: the decision, no matter the actual cost of cancellation, was absolutely moronic and exactly the kind of move which proves that we routinely hand over power to people who have absolutely no business having any power at all.

Similarly, sympathy for the residents was in short supply, largely on the grounds that anybody who has bought a house in the Croke Park area knows what they are getting.

Frankly, moaning about the disruption caused by living beside a stadium is a bit like those cranky old codgers who bought apartments in Dublin's Temple Bar and then wanted a refund when they discovered that it got a bit noisy at night.

That's not to say that residents don't have a right to be irked by the extra two dates. But there is a phrase that is too seldom used in modern life and it is this one – tough. If the locals had any sense they would simply apply their own piece of free market initiative and demand a slice of the action from both the GAA and Aiken Promotions.

But, in spite of the claims of the residents, many of them perfectly understandable, the bottom line is that the Republic has now become international news, both for the fact that it is probably the only place in the world where Garth Brooks could expect to fill five stadiums worth of fans, and also the only country that would then sabotage such a plan.

In fact, the only thing more perplexing than the row that quickly developed between the warring sides was how both reacted so quickly when it became international news.

As the likes of The New York Times, The Guardian and other papers from the grown-up countries began to have fun with this very Irish tale, each faction started accusing the other of letting the Republic down.

Honestly, it was like being at one of those family occasions that goes horribly wrong and everyone starts to scream and throw cutlery at each other over the dinner table, prompting the mother to put down her hands and hiss: "Shut up, the lot of you. The windows are open and the neighbours can hear us."

Of course, common sense should be allowed to have a say and we know that common sense would dictate that the gigs go ahead.

But since when did common sense ever have a say in anything.

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