Wednesday 22 May 2019

'No plan to enact emergency laws' to save Garth Brooks' five concerts at Croker

Garth Brooks. Photo: Getty Images
Garth Brooks. Photo: Getty Images

Wayne O'Connor, Phillip Ryan and Jerome Reilly

THE Government last night washed its hands of the Garth Brooks affair, rejecting pleas to rush through emergency laws to allow the five concerts to go ahead.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach said the decision to revoke the licence for the two concerts was made by Dublin City Council.

"It's a planning decision and independent of government," he added.

He confirmed there was no plan to enact emergency laws to resolve the crisis.

The Department of the Environment also said it was "primarily a matter" for Dublin City Council but said minister Jan O'Sullivan would examine "constructive proposals".

Meanwhile, the Sunday Independent understands a garda investigation into allegations that signatures were forged on Croke Park concert planning objections is "very much alive".

Frantic discussions were under way last night in an attempt to save the concerts which has left Ireland's reputation as a concert destination in tatters.

Negotiations continued at a secret location last night. The concert's promoter Peter Aiken said that he was unwilling to comment on talks while they were ongoing, stressing that it was a very "sensitive situation".

Mr Aiken was unwilling to say who he was in negotiations with, but it is believed that he was talking to the Croke Park Streets Committee.

And there were indications that both the GAA and the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Christy Burke, were also playing a role in separate talks to end the stalemate - without going to the High Court.

Mr Aiken says Brooks will lose millions if all five Croke Park gigs are cancelled.

A decision will be made by Tuesday as to whether any concerts at Croke Park will now go ahead. Talks will continue today.

However, in a further twist, a new residents group has been formed who are petitioning to save all five of the concerts.

The group are currently unnamed and has been formed as an emergency response by furious locals.

Labour Relations Commission chief executive Kieran Mulvey mediated discussions involving the original residents group and filed a report recommending that a €500,000 legacy fund for local projects be set up for residents.

He also proposed that a cap of nine concerts per year and no more than three in a row be placed on Croke Park. The GAA accepted these proposals but they were rejected by the local residents.

The LRC chief told the Sunday Independent there was a toxic relationship between some parties and that while most residents were happy to come to a compromise, others were unwilling to concede any ground in the dispute.

"Most residents wanted a compromise but there were some hardliners represented that just wanted no concert ever," said Mr Mulvey.

The original Croke Park Streets Committee group was chaired by Tipperary-born Castleknock resident Eamon O'Brien, and some people living near the stadium are unhappy with his role in the concert negotiations.

A spokesperson for the new group said: "There is a so-called spokesperson representing the residents and we don't know him and we have never met him.

"He is not from the area so we want to highlight the fact that he is not representing us."

The new group called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to step in and ensure that the concerts go ahead as they are happy with the LRC chief's previous recommendations.

They will hold a peaceful protest outside Croke Park before today's Leinster hurling final between Kilkenny and Dublin.

Sunday Independent

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