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Owen Keegan: 'I never gave an assurance that five gigs would go ahead'

The DCC chief also accused the GAA and Peter Aiken of “failing to address residents’ concerns”

DUBLIN CITY MANAGER Owen Keegan has issued a strong defence of Dublin City Council’s handling of the Garth Brooks debacle, directly challenging a claim that he had given an assurance that a license would be granted for all give gigs.

“I accept that I indicated I would be supportive of five concerts,” said the Dublin City Council (DCC) chief. But he emphatically denied he had given any assurance to Croke Park’s Peter McKenna, who made the claim before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, GAA Director General Paraic Duffy told the committee he was taken off guard by DCC’s denial of a license for two of the three concerts, pointing to the GAA’s excellent record in hosting music events.

However, Keegan said, the fact DCC had never before refused the GAA a license, shouldn’t have been taken as a guarantee that they would grant a license for five concerts on this occasion.

What was decisive in forcing DCC to turn down the license, Keegan claimed, was “the failure of the GAA and Aiken Promotions to address the legitimate concerns of residents.”

The under-fire Keegan didn’t get much support from Timmy Dooley during this afternoon’s hearing.

Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley

“You sat back and let this spiral out of control,” the Fianna Fáil TD claimed, adding that concerns over the five concerts “should have been blindingly obvious back in February.”

Speaking for the Garth Brooks fanatics of Ireland, Dooley managed to alienate another group of music fans. Addressing the issue of disruption to neighbours, Dooley drew an interesting comparison.

You weren’t talking about Metallica here. It wasn’t going to be a massive rave.It could have been fairly assumed that it wasn’t going to be a drunken bash for five nights.

Keegan had already answered questions for the Committee on Tuesday, defending the decision to only offer three gigs as “appropriate, balanced and reasonable.”

Keegan also appeared to shift blame for cancellation of the five concerts on to Garth Brooks himself, stating that both DCC and Aiken Promotions had come up with compromise solutions, all of which were turned down by the singer.

On Wednesday, Peter Aiken himself appeared before the Committee, saying objections made to the concerts were “like an episode of Father Ted“, and defending his decision to sell tickets before a license was granted.

GAA Director General Paraic Duffy, meanwhile, told TDs and Senators he was taken off guard by DCC’s decision to cancel two of the gigs, and wasn’t happy that the Council had not phoned the GAA to inform them of their ruling.

Read: No court intervention yet over Garth Brooks gigs after Aiken seeks legal advice

More: The Dublin city council chief talked about the Garth Brooks debacle

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Dan MacGuill

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