Thursday 25 August 2016

Letters: Government must bring an end to sorry Croker debacle

Published 07/07/2014 | 02:30

Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks

Here we go again, with Ireland now proving we cannot even organise 'a gig' without controversy and disorganisation unequalled anywhere on Earth.

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This is a potential disaster for tourism. A group of protesters plus Owen Keegan and Dublin City Council have made future Dublin gigs unlikely.

Our complicated planning laws, protesters, and a pedantic council are three obstacles impossible to overcome.

Croke Park used to be a GAA stadium and locals disliked the 'big games'. They were a negative factor in living on Patrick's Road where my family home still exists, but the benefits of 'location, location, location' more than counterbalanced this negativity.

No one forced protester Aidan Fitzsimons to buy in Drumcondra in 1987 when Croke Park was evolving into a world famous national stadium which would necessitate vast running costs and certainly be much more than just a stadium for hurling and football. He bought because of location and should simply put up with the inconvenience of 'gigs' and matches.

Of course, the inconvenience nowadays is off the Richter Scale compared to the '50s, '60s, '70s and of course in 2014 there must be compensation for this inconvenience. But the negatives of the crass stupidity of this 11th-hour intervention are beyond belief... except not quite: the same scenario, at the last-minute, stopped the Mater Children's Hospital Project, which is still in embryonic form at a site in James's Street probably almost as bad as that rejected. As always in disputation, the issue needs to be resolved and resolved now.

Government intervention is now necessary. Let Taoiseach Enda Kenny recall the Dail for a day and with all-party approval provide new legislation.



More power to the Taoiseach

Taoiseach Enda Kenny diminishes his role when he states that he is powerless on the Brooks' concerts issue. There is nothing to stop the Oireachtas from passing an 'Exceptional Licence (Garth Brooks Concerts) Bill 2014'. It could be done overnight. That was how long it took to save the (licensed) banks at taxpayers' expense. The legislation could include a marker for the promoters and the GAA, plus a sweetener for the affected residents.

How to make friends, influence people and, most important of all, garner 400,000 votes without really trying.



Media versus the residents

Is there some kind of attempt by the media to browbeat the Croke Park residents? Saturday's Irish Independent headline referred to Ireland's reputation being in tatters.

Have we not been trying to rehabilitate our good name after years of bending rules whenever a wad of cash is produced?

This was supplemented by three pieces inside, detailing selected ticket-holders' bereavement at their situation. Their grief was only matched by those lamenting the loss of between €50m and €2bn (as reported on one national radio station, I kid you not) to the economy. The general incredulity shown by self-interested groups at the residents' stupidity for living where they do and for their intransigence is contemptible given the fact that they are well used to disruption and had acquiesced to further concerts being staged beyond the original agreement with the GAA.

Aitken cannot have been unaware of this, and he is also culpable. Well done to Dublin City Council for taking a principled stand, though clearly the present licensing procedures need to be reviewed.



No show like a Garth no-show

As Joe Dolan might say, there's no show like a Garth no-show.



Time for a new plan that suits all

Is it not time that the GAA, Dublin Corporation, CIE/Dublin Bus/Iarnrod Eireann got together to devise plans to maximise the use of Croke Park for the benefit of all parties and the national and Dublin economies while alleviating the disruption to local residents?

Step 1: Put in place park and ride facilities to bus patrons to and from the venue using parking facilities in the south of the city and the perimeters.

Step 2: Develop the canalside railway line by temporarily covering the track furthest from the canal to form a platform for a temporary station using pre-booked tickets. Using the entire line between Ballybough Road bridge and Drumcondra Road bridge would allow thousands of people to be moved in a short time.

Step 3: Integrate ticketing for the event itself and transport to encourage use of public transport.

Step 4: Develop systems to allow residents of the locality to enjoy a normal life during events, for example, enabling them to reserve parking spaces in the vicinity of their homes.

Step 5: Develop a system of wardens/stewards with legal powers to police the locality and reduce incidents of unsocial behaviour. (This is an idea that could be introduced countrywide to police traffic at funerals and other events given the lack of gardai and the fact that gardai can be better employed than doing this work.)



An unearthly quandary?

To the residents of the Croke Park area, Aiken Promotions and Garth Brooks.

To quote Mr Spock from 'Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan', "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one."



An amicable arrangement

One understands readily the concerns of those people who live in the close confines of Croke Park, but I fail to understand why it has taken so long for Dublin City Council to give its decision regarding the licence/s, bearing in mind that these concerts were announced and planned for a considerable time.

Although long-since retired, the day job was in movies, where I spent more than 40 years in 'production'. On a location scout, many were the times that a director screamed 'this is it... this is the street, I must shoot here!'.

To build a set was too expensive ("it lacks the feeling, the resonance of the real thing... the grittiness of life!"). So we made a proposition to the residents of the street in which we wished to shoot, to avoid our filming exercise clashing with their daily lives. We moved people out of a street into at least a three-star hotel for the duration, all expenses paid by the movie company, and of course, security provided to the street while filming was not actually taking place.

Can't the Dublin City Council and the GAA arrive at a similar compromise? It ain't rocket science...



New lingo hard to swallow

Last night I was surprised to hear my daughter tell my two little granddaughters to "go and play with your tablets".

I have never understood the mysterious world of women and girls, so I thought that this was some new feminine rite to prepare girls for discussing tablets and medication in later life.

Later, my wife explained that the "tablets" were mini-computing devices.

Living and learning comes to mind.


Irish Independent

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