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Sunday 22 September 2019

Garda fail to identify the 'bogus' Garth Brooks objectors

Gigs fiasco: Garth Brooks cancelled his concerts
Gigs fiasco: Garth Brooks cancelled his concerts
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

A Garda investigation has failed to solve the mystery of who was behind the allegedly bogus letters of complaint about Garth Brooks concerts in Croke Park last year.

The mystery was one of the several bizarre developments in the Brooks fiasco that ultimately ended with the country and western star cancelling all of his planned shows to the huge disappointment of his fans.

The lengthy Garda inquiry to find out who had sent the bogus letters is understood to have drawn to close in recent weeks after the Director of Public Prosecutions concluded there was not enough evidence to prosecution anyone.

A garda source this weekend described the inquiry as "difficult". Officers took statements from 200 people and followed some 450 lines of inquiry. CCTV footage from the council's Civic Quay offices was also examined but yielded no further clues on who had deposited the letters at its offices.

It was reported earlier this year that three people were to be interviewed under caution about the forgeries.

The objection letters - purporting to be from local residents - were sent to Dublin City Council ahead of its decision to license three of the proposed five concerts in Croke Park. Brooks, who insisted on doing five shows, eventually pulled out of all of them.

However, at the height of the frenzied negotiations to keep the Brooks shows on the road, it emerged that some of the objection letters were bogus. The city council only realised that fact when it sent out acknowledgement letters to residents. Eleven residents came forward to say that they had not objected to the concerts and that their names and addresses had been used without their knowledge or permission.

The city manager, Owen Keegan, later told a government committee that just over 70 of 200 submissions were suspect. Gardai estimated that between 35 and 40pc of the submissions were bogus.

The garda investigation involved dispatching detectives to each address in person to verify whether the occupant was actually the author of the letter.

In a small number of cases, the identities of people with intellectual disabilities were attached to the objections.

Other objections were "signed" by local residents who had actually bought tickets for the concerts. Another supposed signatory was in jail, while others were living abroad, or were children

The objections, of which more than 370 were received in total, would have played a significant role in the city manager's decision to license three concerts and not five.

The garda investigation was launched under the theft and fraud offences section of the Criminal Justice Act.

A file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions earlier this year after an investigation that took more than a year and a huge amount of garda time in a one of the city centre's busiest crime districts.

The concerts would have attracted record numbers of fans to the capital. Their cancellation meant that around 400,000 disappointed fans had to be refunded. City centre businesses and the hospitality industry lost out on an enormous boost in trade.

Sunday Independent

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