Saturday 21 April 2018

Council boss admits telling GAA he was in favour of five-gig idea

Owen Keegan, Dublin City Manager
Owen Keegan, Dublin City Manager
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

DUBLIN City Manager Owen Keegan has admitted telling a senior GAA figure that he was in favour of the plans to stage all five Garth Brooks concerts at Croke Park.

Mr Keegan expressed his support for the proposals in a phone call with stadium director Peter McKenna – just weeks before Dublin City Council revealed that a licence for just three was being granted.

The phone call in question, which took place on February 1, has been the subject of a row between the GAA and Dublin City Council this week.

While admitting that he told Mr McKenna he was supportive of all five concerts, Mr Keegan yesterday insisted that this did not represent a "firm offer".

"It's a far cry to interpret 'broad support' as any assurance," he told the Oireachtas Committee for Communications and Transport.

Mr Keegan said he did not warn the GAA or Aiken Promotions there was a risk the licence for five concerts would not be issued because it could open the council up to legal action.

"If I had warned against granting the five concerts, I would have been accused of being prejudicial," he added.

The council chief appeared in front of the Oireachtas Committee for Communications and Transport for the second time this week as the fallout from the Brooks fiasco continues.

Mr Keegan was hauled back in front of the committee again after the GAA claimed it had been assured the concerts would go ahead. Committee chairman John O'Mahony said there still remained a conflict of evidence between both parties "which can only be resolved in a different forum". He described the Garth Brooks fiasco as an "unholy mess".

Meanwhile, Ticketmaster last night said some 190,000 refunds have already been issued to disappointed customers.

"We are continuing to receive refund requests from customers and will be working through those as quickly and efficiently as possible,"the company said.

Promoter Peter Aiken was due to contact Mr Brooks' management team this weekend to discuss the sequence of events that resulted in the plug being pulled.

It emerged on Wednesday that Mr Aiken was prepared to instigate a judicial review of the decision to only grant three concerts.

The basis for the judicial review was that a large proportion of the objections against the concerts turned out to be fraudulent.

However, Mr Aiken was only prepared to lodge the papers in the High Court if Dublin City Council confirmed that the review would not be contested.

Mr Keegan yesterday said that he would have resigned if the council allowed such a process to take place.

He said by not contesting the judicial review, his credibility would be at stake.

"I couldn't agree to that as it would have been in conflict with everything I believe," Mr Keegan added.

Irish Independent

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