Tuesday 16 January 2018

'It's not a teetotaller convention' says judge as he rejects bid by locals to ban alcohol sales at Marlay Park gigs


Tom Tuite

A JUDGE has rejected a bid by locals to ban the sale of alcohol at the Stone Roses and Kodaline concerts as well as the Longitude music festival in Dublin's Marlay Park.

Irish rockers Kodaline are set to play Marlay Park in Rathfarnham on July 8 while veteran Manchester Indie legends the Stone Roses will take to the stage in front of 40,000 fans on the following day.

Ian Brown of The Stone Roses
Ian Brown of The Stone Roses

The three-day Longitude Festival featuring dozens of acts will also take place at Marlay Park from July 15-July 17, with all the shows being put on by promoters MCD.

Events Bars & Catering (Facilities MGT Ireland) Ltd applied to Dublin District Court for an occasional licence to serve alcohol at the events however they faced an objection by 25 concerned Rathfarnham residents,  some fearing a repeat of the trouble that broke out during concerts in Phoenix Park in 2012.

The locals went to court  today to complain about under-age drinking, inebriated concert goes urinating in public places, anti-social behaviour and not being able to get access to their homes and a “Berlin type wall” in a “lock-down” of the south Dublin suburb during the shows.

However, Judge Michael Coghlan denied their objection. He said there was a need for venues in many areas and he told one resident he must have known the concerts would not be a “teetotaller convention”.

Gda Sergeant Michael Phelan is co-ordinating the policing of the events and told the court lessons have been learned from any problems previously experienced at the Marlay Parks concerts.

He said there would be 190 gardai on duty for the July 8 and 9 concerts inside and outside the venue. There will be 180 gardai on duty for the Longitude Festival, he said.

He explained that Dublin Bus will have detours so concert goers travelling to the shows will be left off at Marlay Park in a Garda controlled zone. Over the years gardai have increased the number of officers on duty during concerts at the park, he also said.

He told counsel for the catering firm Dorothy Collins BL (instructed by solicitor Ursula Courtney) that there would be assistance from private security guards and stewards from a local GAA club which will also earn money from the gigs.

Entrances to housing estates in the area would be sealed off to prevent concert goers going into the residential areas around Marlay Park. Parking would be provided inside the venue and concert goers would not be let park in nearby estates.

He said that during an event last year there were 300 fake ID cards seized from young people. He also said they will have age checks at the entrance and there would test purchases of alcohol taking place at the event. He said the number of arrests would be no more than that in a busy part of Dublin city-centre.

He said the concerts are due to finish up at around 10pm and gardai will remain the area until midnight or 12.30am. They would also be liaising with licensed premises in the area about alcohol sales.

Ms Collins also pointed that emergency vehicles would have access the residential estates in the area if needed.

Judge Coghlan said that there had to be evidence of specific criminal damage incidents during the previous events there or that they were not adequately policed in the past.

“I was interested to hear if there was a prevalence of public order breaches, anti-social behaviour or violent incidents and the sergeant suggests that on the Richter scale things it was well down,” he said. He also said there was no evidence of mayhem or widespread lawlessness at previous concerts in the park.

The objectors provided the court with a list of complaints and five Rathfarnham residents gave evidence. Sean Connolly, from Marlay Grange, said he was concerned that there was not sufficient ID checking and he thought there was under-age drinking.

Niall O'Reilly from Broadford said the main issue he had was that on each date approximately 40,000 people will arrive in an area where the local population was almost 15,000. He said it made it difficult to get to shops or go anywhere and led to traffic problems.

Michael Donnellan from the Woodpark Estate described the Garda measures as “Alice in Wonderland” and that at previous concerts he witnessed drunk people coming out and saw “them urinate at will all over the place”. He also suspected people were bringing in alcohol in soft drink bottles.

Tony Redmond from Marlay Drive said there was not enough access in the event on an emergency and a couple of years ago there was a “Berlin type wall put up”. He said after one concert he caught someone trying to steal his car. He said he was also concerned about wildlife and dismissed a environmental impact report by the promoters.

Una Connaughton said that during previous concerts she thought gardai were overwhelmed and the crowds could delay the arrival of an emergency vehicle which could cause loss of life. Last year she had been unable to drive her car through the crowd to get to her road and had to abandon, she said.

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