Saturday 7 December 2019

No winners in the Garth Brooks debacle

* It was over long before the fat man sang, and let me tell you this: there were no winners here, only losers – yes, losers – even if you are a local objector from the Croke Park area. I'll tell you why.

To deprive innocent, decent people of a night's enjoyment, which they had paid for with their hard-earned cash, was, in my opinion, wrong.

Wrong because for once you held the trump cards in your hands, you had the power to stop any further concerts in this arena for the next number of years; you had the power to show mercy to young and old who were so looking forward to going to this concert.

Now all you will be remembered for is stopping the party.

As many as 80,000 people will still gather at this place from time to time to watch our national games. Would you prefer if they stayed at home and watched it on TV and to leave Croke Park empty?

You are not alone in making a mistake; the powers that be in Croke Park or the GAA or whoever is responsible for the running of these concerts should hold their heads in shame. They've had years to sit with the locals and to make the peace; perhaps they thought that money and power could walk over any problem.

We should never again use the phrase Cead Mile Failte, a hundred, thousand welcomes is right – try selling that to the 400,000 disappointed fans spread all over the world.

I'm sure if Garth Brooks ever sings 'If Tomorrow Never Comes' again, he'll add the lyrics 'I'll never, never visit Ireland'.

Last word to our elected ones who sit in Leinster House, and I speak to both sides of the house: you changed the law in a matter of hours when you decided to repay money that we the people never borrowed – both sides were guilty of this crime, because it was a crime.




* As a citizen of Ireland, I am absolutely disgusted with the antics of our politicians over the Garth Brooks concert debacle. These same politicians (albeit a different party in power) had no difficulty introducing emergency legislation in allowing a bank guarantee for €80bn overnight without any consultation with the people.

I think maybe Bob Geldof is right, that we are a banana republic, when I read quotes from a senior politician like Joe Costello, "that it is difficult to understand why Mr Brooks made the decision to have no concerts at all, when he was refused only two of the five consecutive concerts sought on the grounds that more than three would be 'unacceptable' and unprecedented. His determination to have five or more smacks of petulance and arrogance, with scant regard for his paying fans".

And councillor Nial Ring is not aware of all the facts when criticising Mr Brooks: "I hold Garth Brooks fully responsible for this debacle. He was happy to do two concerts and the accountants assured him that this would have yielded a nice profit. Then he got three – the icing on the cake. Then four – almost enough profit to pay off our national debt."

Let me tell you from what I know of Garth Brooks that the man is completely genuine when he says he would not want to disappoint 80,000 or 160,000 fans, and having to choose was like asking him to choose one child over another.

When Mr Aiken's father died, Mr Brooks flew over here to the funeral unnoticed, without a single picture in the press or any media reaction, because that is the type of person he is, unlike many of these other superstars who do nothing but headline the media day in and out, with nothing but greed and money at the core of the publicity.

This man can make a fortune elsewhere but chose Dublin to kick off this tour in spectacular fashion, showing his undoubted loyalty to the fans here and to the promoter.

The staging of five concerts was a huge logistical problem for all the team involved, two or three was grand, but Mr Brooks did not want to let his fans down and after much consultation allowed a maximum of five. The pressure on the promoter to deliver this was unprecedented even for them, when the concerts were extended to five, but a logistical plan was in place to deliver on the promises, with huge financial penalty clauses in place.

The people involved were fully aware of the threat of the residents in any attempt to protest along the way, which is why they were willing to pay vast sums of money to the communities for disruption caused, but as many of the 23,000 homes along the 2km stretch were divided over the concerts, it was impossible to get an understanding of what compensation was required.

When the dust settles and the summer is long gone, most of the residents will be sorry they didn't get out on the summer evenings and enjoy the events with the people.

I have often attended BBQs along Clonliffe Road during the GAA games, most of the residents enjoy the craic.

Emergency legislation for one and none for another. Shame on the Government.




* Garth Brooks – do things never change? When I was a little boy I used to play hurling with some friends in our play area. Around this play area were some houses.

Most people were happy to see us out playing and enjoying ourselves.

But there was one resident called Mary. Mary was always complaining about the way we were disturbing her peace. One day I miss-hit the ball and it broke the back window of Mary's house. My friends and I said we would pay for a new window. She would not listen to us and made a formal complaint to the local guard.

The guard was happy to give us a good telling off but Mary was not and said she would take it further if he did not. The end result was we were banned from playing hurling in our play area. I never became a Henry Shefflin – I still blame Mary.




* The Garth Brooks concert failure demonstrates an arrogance and contempt of ordinary people by powerful decision makers.

That is an exact replica of the arrogance and contempt of ordinary people that was rife among decision makers during the boom and that ended with a bankrupt country.




* Had Dublin City Council, and a certain Mr Keegan, been in charge of US East Coast expansion more than 150 years ago, there never would have been a Wild West. No railroads west of Independence, Missouri. No California gold rush. And definitely no Western music.

And we would have been saved the spectacle of Dublin making a holy show of itself to appease the official begrudger who seems to run the whole show.




* The lovely Imelda May is 40 today. May I wish this very warm, talented, special lady, on behalf of all her many fans in this country and beyond, a very, very happy birthday and many, many more to come.



Irish Independent

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