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Here's how we're going to avoid another Garth Brooks 'fiasco'

New rules are going to take effect from October.

The man himself
The man himself
Image: AP/Press Association Images

Updated at 5.15pm

THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced how it plans to stop another last-minute event cancellation, following the Garth Brooks controversy last year where five planned concerts at Croke Park were cancelled.

Paudie Coffey, junior minister with responsibility for planning, said new event licensing rules will “ensure we won’t have a repeat of what happened last year”.

Under the new rules, which will take effect from 1 October, it will be mandatory for event promoters to have a pre-application consultation meeting with the relevant local authority prior to submitting an event licence application.

Coffey said this means promoters will have a “clear indications” if the license will be granted or not. Events cannot be advertised or tickets sold until this consultation proces has taken place.

However, local authorities can still refuse to grant a license up until four weeks before an event, meaning concertgoers could still end up being disappointed.

Coffey said the normal route of appeal for event promoters is the judicial review process, but noted there wasn’t time for this in relation to the Brooks situation in 2014.

“Under the new regulations, the local authority must make a decision no later than four weeks before an event, that will give appropriate time for any appeal or judicial review,” Coffey said.

Coffey said he and Environment Minister Alan Kelly engaged all of the relevant stakeholders before finalising the rules. He noted that some promoters weren’t happy with the new process, but refused to be drawn on where Aiken Promotions, the group behind Brooks’ concerts, stood.

The public consultation phase garnered about 50 submissions.

Social Housing Strategy launch - Dublin Paudie Coffey Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

The following are some of the main changes being introduced under the new regulations:

  • It will now be mandatory for event promoters to have a pre-application consultation meeting with the relevant local authority prior to submitting an event licence application;
  • Event licence applications will not be accepted by a local authority unless a pre-application consultation meeting has already taken place with the event promoter;
  • Event promoters will not be entitled to advertise or sell tickets for events prior to the holding of a pre-application consultation meeting with the relevant local authority;
  • Where tickets for events have been advertised and sold prior to the holding of a pre-application consultation meeting, an application for an event licence will not be accepted by the relevant local authority;
  • Event licensing applications must be lodged with the relevant local authority at least 13 weeks in advance of the proposed event (currently 10 weeks).
  • Local authorities must make their decision on an event licence application no later than 4 weeks in advance of the proposed event.
  • Where it is proposed to add performances to a schedule already announced, a further pre-application consultation meeting will be required to take place before the announcement of any additional dates.
  • The public consultation period in relation to event licence applications is being reduced to 3 weeks (currently 5 weeks).

The new regulations follow the establishment of a review group in by Kelly last year, which met six times during the period October 2014 to March 2015.

It was chaired by the Department of the Environment and included representatives from other government departments, state agencies and local authorities.

The group also met with the four main promoters of outdoor events in Ireland (MCD, Aiken Promotions, Festival Republic and POD) who were invited to make presentations of their experience with the existing legislative provisions and to suggest possible changes that might be required.

Anthony Fay, a solicitor who represented some residents of Croke Park during the Garth Brooks debacle last year, this evening cautiously welcomed the reforms.

“Legal reform should help to avoid the same chaotic results experienced last year by concertgoers, residents, the event management and hospitality industries,” Fay said in a statement.

Additional reporting by Nicky Ryan

It is also important however going forward that the integrity of the licensing system is upheld and avoids political interference as occurred last summer.

Read: ‘It was absolutely ludicrous that the Garth Brooks fiasco was allowed to happen’

Read: Ed Sheeran hints at more Croke Park gigs – but assures us it won’t be Garthgate 2

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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