Saturday 27 December 2014

Taoiseach: 'Garth Brooks situation was very badly handled all around'

Denise Calnan & Lise Hand

Published 08/07/2014 | 17:13

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny said in the Dáil that the Garth Brooks controversy “appears to have been very badly handled all around”.

He described the bombshell cancellation of his five concerts in Croke Park as “a shock to the system in terms of the economy of the city and the reputation of our country, and I do hope these issues can be more efficiently handled the next time they arise”.

He was speaking in reaction to the shock news that the country superstar has cancelled his concerts in the wake of the refusal by Dublin City Council to grant a licence for two of the five scheduled dates, despite 400,000 tickets having been sold.

The Taoiseach added that a bill on the licensing of concerts proposed by Fianna Fáil's Timmy Dooley comes too late to affect the situation, but that he would consider it to prevent another debacle in the future. “Even if Deputy Dooley’s bill were accepted, it’s now too late. I haven’t seen it, obviously we’ll give consideration to it and see how relevant it might be”.

Mr Kenny confirmed there would be “no concerts at all. The singer involved here Garth Brooks takes a very strong view of his integrity and credibility as a performer, as an artist and his view was five or nothing. I’m sure this is a great disappointment to his hundreds of thousands of fans,” he said. 

“This has an implication of a quarter of a billion for this city in terms of the economy, the excitement and all of that.”

Senator Averil Power. Photo: Tom Burke
The senator claims legislation could have been put through the Dail and the Seanad today that would have allowed the concerts to go ahead and would have prevented something similar happening with concert licences again. Photo: Tom Burke

Other politicians and public figures have criticised the cancellation of the five Garth Brooks concerts, saying there will be significant damage to Ireland's economy and reputation.

Councillor Nial Ring believes the decision to cancel has left a local community divided, 400,000 fans desolate and an economy deprived of millions of euro.

"I hold Garth Brooks fully responsible for this debacle. He was happy to do two concerts and the accountants would have assured him that this would have yielded a nice profit. Then he got three - the icing on the cake. Then five - super profit territory. Then five - almost enough profit to pay off our national debt."

"But following Dublin City Council's decision to restrict the concerts to three Garth issued an ultimatum - five or none. Still three, so Garth decided to throw a strop and cancel all shows despite the "love affair" he has with his Irish fan base. Maybe seventeen years of absence didn't make the heart grow fonder after all," he continued.

"Meanwhile we are left to pick up the pieces and try to salvage what's left of our reputation, try and rebuild relations amongst the community, the GAA and the 400,000 fans who will no doubt be left with the impression that (ceithre) cead mile failte really doesn't translate as it should," he concluded.

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan has said that the cancellation of the concerts is “an embarrassment” for the country.

Labour’s Joe Costello criticised the singer for cancelling all five shows. “His determination to have ‘five or none’ smacks of petulance and arrogance, with scant regard for his fans.”

Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan has said the cancellation of all five of Garth Brooks’ Croke Park concerts is an embarrassment to the country, 

The minister said the cancellation of the Comeback Special event is not only a huge loss economically, but has caused ‘reputational damage’ to Ireland as well.

“It is a huge disappointment and when you consider that 400,000 people were going to come to Dublin for these concerts,” Minister Deenihan told independent.ie

“It’s a huge loss as well to the city but it will result in reputational damage as well to the country.

“What I said from the beginning is a whole new process has to be put in place so there will never be a repetition of what happened,” he continued.

“We have to learn lessons from this whole debacle. It is an embarrassment [to Ireland].”

Meanwhile, Kieran Mulvey of the Labour Relations Commission said 'nobody wins' from today's decision.

Mulvey was the author of the Mulvey Report, drawn up during the mediation process between concert promoters and residents, which proposed that more than three concerts in a row should never again be held in Croke Park.

He expressed his disappointment that the concerts would not be held in a radio interview this evening.

“I think it’s a pity. It is a tragedy for the fans who bought tickets. It is problem for the country and how we are seen internationally and for the tourism market. Nobody wins. I am sure we will now enter the usual past time of recrimination.”

Mulvey said he “thought I got close enough to addressing 99pc concerns of the residents.

“There was a small group of people who were never going to be satisfied.”

Mulvey said that he thought there was no “going back once Dublin City Manager Owen Keegan made his decision”.

He said that there was no way the decision could "be rescued"

"I don't know if we will ever see Garth Brooks play in this country again. From what I understand the man himself, is very unhappy with the decision."

Fianna Fail senator Averil Power has said the Government should have taken the Garth Brooks concert debacle seriously because of what it meant to the country’s economy.

The senator claims legislation could have been put through the Dail and the Seanad today that would have allowed the concerts to go ahead and would have prevented something similar happening with concert licences again.

“Yesterday I organised a conference with the head of Dublin Commerce Chamber, the hotel federation, the vintners’ association and the restaurant association, as well as thousands of people who own small businesses, all worried the concerts would be cancelled,” Senator Power told Today FM.

“The city will now lose €50m and secondly, damage has been done to our international reputation as a tourism destination.”

Senator Power also said she put it to the Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar to come into the Dail and debate the issue at hand.

“This one page of legislation could have been put through the Dail and the Seanad today to allow the concerts to go ahead and to prevent this happening,” she continued.

“We were asking the Minister for Tourism and the Minister for Jobs to step up to the mark this week but they were all just washing their hands of it.”

Concert organisers Aiken Promotions today announced the cancellation of all five of Garth Brooks’ gigs.

The country singer is set to hold a live press conference on his website Thursday morning with information about his upcoming world tour and album, where he is expected to mention the cancellation of the Irish concerts.

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