Sunday 8 December 2019

Tarnation once again as new levels of farce hit in council chamber

Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

Somewhere north east of Tulsa, Garth Brooks had removed his 10- gallon hat in order to stamp on it, while simultaneously wailing: "Would somebody tell me whut in tarnation's goin' on here?"

Sure enough the Emergency Dublin City Council meeting furnished rather more questions than answers.

One question in particular stood out: now what?

With vital stage equipment ready to be shipped, Garth and his promoters versus the Dublin City planners and a chorus of residents were playing a desperate game of chicken that would take pride of place in any high-stakes Vegas casino.

On to the already farcical levels of drama and chaos was heaped further drama and chaos after councillors voted in favour of restoring all five Garth Brooks concerts by reviewing the conditions of the licence – despite knowing that they were wasting their energy by even putting up their hand to vote in the first place.

In fairness, the motion was carried by a single vote. But it did seem more than a little pointless.

The hands of the City Manager – or rather chief executive as he is now – were tied.

The law is the law. He cannot override the planning regulations.

Planned protests by residents' groups outside the City Hall were abruptly cancelled before the event. There was only so much chaos one small city could take.

In a statement, Owen Keegan said they had granted an event licence allowing three consecutive Garth Brooks concerts and "had in total approved six concerts so far this year – cognisant of the fact that the maximum number of approved events in any one year heretofore was four".

As an aside, the statement issued by the council had twice misspelt Croke Park as "Crooke Park".

Mr Keegan said he hoped Garth Brooks would avail of the licence that had been granted and play the three shows.

And he added that "of course" the council had sympathy for those ticket holders who purchased tickets for the shows on Monday and Tuesday and would hope that these two shows could be facilitated at some stage in the future. He said that Dublin City Council would welcome an opportunity in the future to discuss changes in the event licensing system, including a possible restriction on the sale of tickets in advance of an event licence being issued.

Pointedly, Mr Keegan revealed how tickets for the five proposed Garth Brooks to take place at Croke Park went on sale in late January/early February 2014.

And while the promoter could have lodged the licence application at any stage, including before the tickets went on sale, "the promoter decided not to do so until 17 April 2014".

Lord Mayor Christy Burke said he had been working around the clock over the weekend to try and resolve the issue with officials and also with Aiken, the promoters.

Knowing they were powerless, the councillors lined up to express their outrage, with claims that the country's reputation was in "tatters."

Councillor Ruairi McGinley said 400,000 people had "voted with hard cash" and booked accommodation for the concerts.

The event would give the city a great boost, he said, pointing out that the number of people who would attend the five concerts was "more than 10pc of the adult population of this island".

But we are still none the wiser.

If there is an arena where this debacle could ever be resolved, it was not going to be in the chambers of Dublin City Council.

Irish Independent

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