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The Dublin city council chief talked about the Garth Brooks debacle

Here’s what he said.
Jul 15th 2014, 11:25 AM 19,957 88

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL chief Owen Keegan has appeared before TDs and Senators on the Oireachtas Transport Committee to answer questions on the Garth Brooks debacle.

Keegan’s appearance follows the decision by the country singer to abandon plans to play concerts in Croke Park this summer after the council – headed by Keegan – only gave permission for three of the five planned dates to go ahead.

Keegan told the committee that he believed the decision reached was “appropriate, balanced and reasonable” and based on a consideration of the impact allowing five concerts would have on local residents and businesses.

He said there was a concern about the precedent that would be set if the council allowed all five to go ahead, considering three One Direction concerts were already hosted at Croke Park this year.

Keegan told the committee that an option of four concerts was offered to Aiken Promotions before the decision was made but this was rejected by Garth Brooks.

He also revealed that it was Peter Aiken’s idea to add two matinees on the Saturday and Sunday to replace the Monday and Tuesday. However, Keegan said that, again, Brooks was “not prepared to move with that option”.

Jim Keogan, Executive Manager of Planning and Economic Development also admitted that he owns a property “in the shadow” of Croke Park that his son currently lives in and he was acutely aware of the concerns of residents.

Ticket sales

He said there was “no informal or formal” consultation with the council before the tickets for the first three concerts went on sale, aside from a phone call in December about an intention to apply to hold two gigs in Croke Park.

At a meeting in February about a different event in Dublin, Keogan said Aiken Promotions were told as part of an informal conversation about the five concerts that it was “a big ask” and that there were “serious concerns” about the impact they would have.

TDs are continuing to grill council officials, in particular about their proposal to allow four to proceed, with Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley saying that he finds it “hard to comprehend” how granting permission for five concerts would be a “major departure” but four would be fine.

Sinn Féin’s Mary-Lou McDonald raised the recent report about fraudulent objections made through the public consultation process. She said she believed the council had been “negligent” with its system for validating submissions.

Keegan told her that the council is constrained in what it can do, as it can not demand any fees or documentation to authenticate objections but that recent events raise “legitimate questions” about the process.

- Additional reporting by Hugh O’Connell. 

Read: Hotel apologises for saying Garth Brooks gigs were on, tells angry fans to “get a life”

It’s over: Garth Brooks confirms all five concerts are cancelled

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Michelle Hennessy

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