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Sunday 21 September 2014

40pc of concert ‘objections’ are bogus — gardai

Published 13/07/2014 | 02:30

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Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks

ALMOST half of the submissions from local residents objecting to Garth Brooks’ Croke Park concerts in Dublin are bogus, a garda investigation has found.

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The scale of the suspected forgery has prompted a criminal investigation in Dublin’s north inner city, the Sunday Independent has learned.

Detectives have already identified the potential suspects behind the suspected planning fraud aimed at derailing the star’s plans to perform five concerts in five nights at the stadium.

Around 380 objections to the five concerts were submitted to Dublin City Council when it was considering a licence for the Garth Brooks concerts. The complaints from residents were central to the local authority’s decision to allow only three of the five concerts to go ahead, which in turn caused Brooks to pull out.

Gardai began verifying the 380 objections last week. By Friday, detectives had called to 180 of the 380 households. They discovered that between 35pc and 40pc of the residents had no knowledge of the planning objections lodged in their names.

In one or two cases, the suspected forgers appear to have used the identities of people with intellectual disabilities to attach to the objections. Sources said it appeared some “objections” were “signed” by local people who had actually bought tickets for the concerts.

Gardai expect the final forgery count to increase once they have worked through the remaining 200 householders and the process is expected to be completed in the coming days. “We have called to 180 of the complainants . . . and around 35 to 40pc of the complaints are dubious to say the least,” a source said.

A formal investigation under the theft and fraud offences section of the Criminal Justice Act has been launched under the direction of Superintendent Kevin Gralton.

Superintendent Gralton declined to comment to the Sunday Independent, other than to confirm that “a full investigation is under way and on completion, a file will be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions”.

Dublin City Council called in gardai in the past fortnight after officials became suspicious about some of the complaints they received from local residents about the concerts after a five week consultation process started in April. The “vast majority” of the 380 objections

were “delivered in bulk” to Dublin City Council’s offices on Wood Quay, according to sources.

The objections were in hard copy and bore the names, signatures and addresses of local residents living in the vicinity of Croke Park.The local authority sent out acknowledgement letters to the 380 objectors. But 11 of the residents contacted the council to say they hadn’t objected to the concert. The local authority then called in gardai. An investigation got under way a fortnight ago.

Gardai are trying to trace the person who dropped off the package of submissions, using CCTV footage from the council officers and by interviewing city council staff.

The scale of the forged complaints is the latest twist in the dramatic stand-off between the country and western singer and Dublin City Council over staging the five concerts. 

Brooks resorted to dramatically pleading with the Taoiseach to intervene

but then rejected the council’s latest offer of sandwiching in two afternoon matinees between three nightly shows.

Brian Duff, who lives in a corporation flat on North Cumberland Street, just

 off Parnell Street in Dublin’s city centre, told the Irish Independent last week that he was given €15,000 to

take a High Court injunction objecting to the three concerts permitted by the city council.

Mr Duff then announced he was dropping the action at a press conference organised by the Dublin Lord Mayor, Christy Burke. Mr Duff claimed he was subjected to harassment and online threats as a result of the injunction.

Duff refused to say who gave him the €15,000. He told the Irish Independent that his backers wanted “to bring the GAA down.” He claimed he was offered the money by people “north and south of the Border” to support his legal action and was also given a new suit to wear to court.

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