herald

Monday 23 October 2017

'it's five shows or none at all' - brooks issues croker ultimatum

AS plans for his gigs were thrown into disarray, Garth Brooks has insisted "it's five shows or none at all". 
 The country superstar last night sensationally responded to Dublin City Council's decision not to license two of his planned performances later this month.

Brooks said: "I can't thank the people of Ireland enough for how welcome they have made me feel.

"I have faith that Dublin City Council will make the best decision for the people of Ireland."

"For us, it is five shows or none at all. To choose which shows to do and which shows not to do would be like asking to choose one child over another.

"However this plays out, Ireland has my heart and always will," Brooks added in a statement released by his publicist.

Promoters of the sold-out concerts had earlier admitted that they could not make any commitments on whether the remaining three gigs would go ahead.

Brooks' comments fuel serious concerns that none of this month's Croke Park concerts will proceed following Dublin City Council (DCC) refusal to license the last two dates.

Promoter Peter Aiken, who spoke to Mr Brooks yesterday, would not give any commitment that the July 25, 26 and 27 concerts will proceed.

Mr Aiken said: "I think it's up in the air, that's my honest to God answer. I can't turn around and say three shows are definitely going to happen."

The concert promoter also said that the country music legend was devastated by the news that DCC only granted a licence for three of his shows.

impossible

"He's devastated. How does he come over and do three shows when the way he had planned it in his head...

"He doesn't want to disappoint the people who bought tickets for three shows but, more importantly, he doesn't want to disappoint the people who bought [tickets] for the two [cancelled] shows.

Mr Aiken ruled out moving the two other concerts to another venue, despite a number of offers yesterday.

"It's not going to happen anywhere else in the world," he said, citing the fact that his staging was so vast it would be logically impossible to "strip down," and move somewhere else.

However, last night, a source confirmed to the Herald that the Aviva Stadium can hold three non-sporting events a year without the need to apply for a licence. To date, no non-sporting events have been held there in 2014.

"This is one viable 
alternative but the logistics would be tough," the source said.

The refusal by the local authority to grant two licences has left both Aiken and GAA officials red-faced as 160,000 fans are left outraged by the axing of the shows and another 240,000 waiting to hear if the shows they booked are going ahead.

The loss in revenue to the city is estimated at €30m as a result of two concerts not going ahead.

decision

The Government is staying out of it with both the Taoiseach and the Minister for Tourism, Michael Ring, saying it was not a matter for them to decide on.

Speaking from Berlin, Enda Kenny said: "It is a planning decision for Dublin City Council.

"They may be able to work out some consequence to allow the remaining concerts to go ahead but it is not for me to interfere in any way."

And Mr Ring said planning laws must be obeyed.

"The decision has been made by Dublin City Council. Croke Park knew the rules and regulations when they were booking these concerts.

"They knew the amount of concerts they could have. And the planning laws in this country have to be obeyed by everybody," said Mr Ring.

Punchestown Racecourse, Nolan Park in Kilkenny and Pairc Ui Chaoimh in Cork all offered their venues as alternatives.

Kilkenny Mayor Andrew McGuinness said that he had made contact with Mr Aiken offering Nolan Park as a venue.

The GAA and Aiken Promotions are holding talks this weekend and a decision on the future of all five gigs in expected to be announced on Monday.

Meanwhile, a local community group, which represents some residents' views, met with solicitor Anthony Fay last night to discuss whether or not they would issue legal proceedings against the three concerts that have been licensed.

The group, the executive committee of the Irish Handball Community Centre, which is beside Croke Park, welcomed 
the DCC decision.

However, in a statement they said: "We feel that the three additional concerts are still in breach of the planning laws and will result in further deterioration of people's quality of life living in the Croke Park vicinity."

The group did not decide on whether or not it would proceed with legal action, but said: "The executive committee will support and endorse any further action/s deemed necessary to protect our community."

An Bord Pleanala previously made a decision that no more than three non-GAA events could be held in Croke Park annually with residents signing an agreement to that effect in 2009.

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