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Sunday 31 August 2014

Oireachtas Committee call in City Manager as Garth Brooks promoters prepare for judicial review

Published 16/07/2014 | 17:03

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

EMBATTLED Dublin City Manager Owen Keegan is facing another grilling from TDs and senators over the Garth Brooks fiasco, independent.ie can reveal.

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Following a day of high drama, the Oireachtas Committee for Communications and Transport has asked Mr Keegan to attend a hearing tomorrow.

In an unprecedented turn of events, Mr Keegan is facing his second public grilling in 72 hours.

Independent.ie has learned that the decision to invite Mr Keegan stems from the evidence given at the committee by GAA executives today.

GAA director general Paraic Duffy claimed that at no stage in the negotiations did Mr Keegan indicate that the five concerts would not place.

"I must state that at no point did DCC even hint that a license would not be granted for all five concerts," he said.

He also detailed a phone conversation between Croke Park Stadium Director Peter McKenna and the city chief.

During the conversation, Mr Keegan is alleged to have asked Mr McKenna to "make the decision-making process as easy as possible for DCC". He is also alleged to have said that DCC was fully supportive of the five concert plan.

Meanwhile, independent.ie has learned that members of the committee this afternoon visited Lord Mayor Christy Burke in the Mansion House.

The visit was made after Peter Aiken of Aiken promotions said he was willing to instigate a judicial review of the decision to reject the five concerts.

Mr Burke has today been in contact with Mr Keegan as pressure mounts on him to allow the judicial review to proceed uncontested.

Representatives of Aiken Promotions have sought permission from the courts service for an application for the judicial review to be heard.

But sources close to the council insist that Mr Keegan is refusing to budge meaning hopes of the concerts being revived could be dashed yet again.

"If Owen Keegan allows this review to go ahead, the concerts could be back on track. If he refuses, nothings changed," said a well-placed source.

Speaking at the committee hearing earlier, the GAA's Paraic Duffy insisted that it was the Irish people who decided that there should have been five concerts and not two.

"What had simply been a night out, became an unmissable national celebration," he said.

He added that he is cocnerned Croke Park may now be seen as a "big organisation bullying the little man".

Meanwhile, Peter Aiken gave fresh insight into the last ditch negotiations aimed at salvaging the five gigs.

He said that he sought agreement from the council on the prospect of a judicial review of the decision. However, Mr Keegan said it was an option he was not willing to consider.

Mr Aiken also told the committee that the option proposed by Dublin City Council for Garth Brooks to perform two concerts in October was not feasible.

The music promoter said the dates would interfere with the singer's world tour.

"It was impossible for Garth to accept this proposal as he was committed to his world tour which is due to start in Chicago on September 4 and was already scheduled to perform elsewhere on the dates suggested," he said.

"Garth treats his fans equally and fairly and therefore, could not treat 160,000 people who had bought tickets for the 4th & 5th Shows differently to the fans who had bought for the first 3 nights so his position would have to be that it was 5 Shows or nothing," Mr Aiken added.

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