Queueing banned at One Direction gigs in a bid to prevent 'crushing'
GARDAI are anxious to avoid potential chaos at the upcoming One Direction gigs similar to the crush scenes witnessed in Peru last month.
Speaking at the safety and security briefing for the event, gardai and promoters MCD highlighted the "unique" demographic of the audience – with 80pc of those attending between the age of five and 18.
They insisted that no fans would be allowed to queue outside Croke Park before the gigs prior to 5pm and children under the age of 14 would not be allowed access to the pitch under any circumstances.
A One Direction gig in Lima had to be evacuated after 47 fans were injured in the crush. That incident occurred when up to 15,000 gained entry after queueing outside the stadium in the hours prior to the concert.
"We do not want overnight queueing here under any circumstances. It will not be facilitated by the stadium, it's not being facilitated out in the residential areas. It's a non-runner as far as we're concerned," explained Superintendent Kevin Gralton of Mountjoy garda station.
He added that gardai would be in place monitoring the situation with close to 200 gardai involved in policing the gigs.
Organisers also said that no child under the age of 16 would gain admittance without an adult and would be sent home.
"We have a management system in place to deal with them and interview them all individually to ascertain their age. We've put quite a lot of effort into a system of managing that," Eamonn Fox of MCD said.
He added that one guardian would be needed for every four children under the age of 16.
Meanwhile, specialist stewards who have experience of dealing with young children will be brought in to help police the concerts.
"We've looked at the security staff we have, at the female to male ratio. The type of security staff that we have, we're using volunteers from camogie clubs and various other clubs that are used to dealing with children. So we've taken great cognisance of the fact that it's a young audience," Mr Fox said.
The concerts – over three nights starting on May 23 – will see the use for the first time of 'tag-a-kid' wristbands which will have a space for parents or guardians to write the seat number and phone numbers in the event that children get separated from their guardians. Mr Fox said the wristbands were unique to Croke Park for the One Direction tour.
The concert has also included seven lost-children zones to ensure any missing children can be reunited with parents as soon as possible.
Justin Greene of MCD said the event was unique because of the age demographic of patrons.
"The age demographic is lower so the particular two points on that is the issue of no under-14s on the actual pitch, under-16s must be accompanied by an adult or guardian at all times and in addition to that just to re-emphasise no queueing outside," he said.
"Because obviously Dublin is like any other city, there's a lot of crime and we want people to come here, enjoy themselves, they've been looking forward to it for over a year now and we want people to come and go home safely."