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Sunday 21 September 2014

Pressure mounts on city manager to stand down

Published 10/07/2014 | 02:30

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Owen Keegan. Photo: Arthur Carron
Owen Keegan. Photo: Arthur Carron

THERE were calls for Dublin city boss Owen Keegan to consider his position last night as the Garth Brooks debacle took another twist.

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Independent TD Finian McGrath said it was time for the city manager to think about stepping down.

It came after an email written by Mr Brooks also heavily criticised Mr Keegan and the decision to not allow five concerts, worth €50m to the economy.

"To do what the city manager suggests (play three shows and not all five) means I agree that is how people should be treated and I just can't agree with that," Mr Brooks said.

Promoter Peter Aiken has also claimed that he was "blindsided" by the council and "shafted" by Mr Keegan (inset).

Pressure

As pressure mounted on the city boss, he did not respond to 10 detailed questions from the Irish Independent about the build-up to and aftermath of his decision to allow three gigs.

A spokesperson said that he was in meetings all day but that "huge consideration" had been given to the application.

He added that Dublin City Council had reached a "balanced decision" based on the views of the community and also taking into account what the promoter wanted, Garth Brooks, Croke Park and the fans.

Last night, Mr McGrath said he was annoyed by the handling of the concert debacle.

"I think it was an appalling decision," said the TD, who urged Mr Keegan to consider his position.

It emerged at one point that a possible fourth concert had been raised by Mr Keegan with the promoters if a guarantee would be provided that the singer would perform all four. However, the council stated it was informed by Aiken Promotions that unless all five took place Brooks would not appear.

"The offer to approach the decision maker (in the Planning Department) was then withdrawn by the chief executive," the council stated.

Councillors at Dublin City moved to call for a review of the conditions of the licence to allow for all five concerts to go ahead at Monday's key meeting.

However, Mr Keegan was adamant at the public forum that the original decision to refuse permission for two gigs could not be rowed back on.

Fianna Fail Cllr Tom Brabazon said there were "major flaws" in the planning system. "When you look at the major economic loss it is too important to be left to one body without an appeals mechanism," he said.

Dublin Lord Mayor Christy Burke said he was not "going into the blame game".

"People have expressed deep, deep, deep regret. I've tried as the first citizen to try and find a solution. Now we have a glimmer of hope. So bring on Garth Brooks, that's my appeal."

Irish Independent

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