Tuesday 12 December 2017

Five gigs or nothing? Our down-home pal Garth's not so 'aw shucks' now

In a week when uncertainty about the future of Arthur's Day caused a minor stink, the whole country was exercised when Dublin City Council refused a license to two Garth Brooks gigs.

The singer's Friday, Saturday and Sunday gigs at Croker later this month could go ahead but the DCC ruled that the Monday and Tuesday shows were just a stretch too far and would be unfair on local residents.

For once I agreed with City manager and all-round bicycle fascist Owen Keegan.

A couple of years ago residents in the Croke Park area reached a written agreement with the GAA that no more than three concerts could be held there annually.

Already this year they've had three One Direction gigs on their doorsteps so when the Garth Brooks shows were announced in January there was bound to be trouble ahead.

Two shows jumped to three and within a week we were up to five consecutive nights of Brooks. Even to the casual observer this was simply asking for trouble.

What most punters who shelled out for the shows apparently didn't realise was that every ticket for an open-air gig carries the proviso 'subject to license being granted'.

This, to the best of my knowledge, is the first time anyone has made a serious challenge to an event. It was bound to happen eventually but even I couldn't have expected it to explode in such spectacular fashion.

My admiration for Owen Keegan on this issue stems from the fact that he's probably the first civic official in the history of this city who's had the gumption to stand up to the politburo of the GAA.

The people who signed that 'no more than three events' agreement clearly thought they could get away with anything, as they have in the past. Well, this time they've been served.


The announcement led to the usual bellows of outrage about people who'd made hotel and transport arrangements and I do genuinely feel sorry for them.

However, take a look at your ticket again and notice that little rider about license approval.

Liveline on Thursday naturally produced a few beauts, with one caller actually claiming that 'creches in Darndale will be affected by this' - ah yes, the 'what about the childer, Joe?' gambit.

But things became even juicier that night with a statement issued by the Garth Brooks camp. In this spectacular piece of brinksmanship they baldly stated that it was five gigs or none, in a clear attempt to steamroller the opposition. Not so down-homey and 'aw shucks' there, were they?

Honestly, the sheer effrontery of these people. This approach is typical of what I'd imagine the bargaining tactics of American corporations offering McJobs in Ireland to be.

Listing demeaning demands so the Paddies with their begging bowls have no choice but to acquiesce seems to be standard operating procedure here,and Brooks' people are no different.

The 'all or nothing' gambit is nothing less than a clear hint to the government to intervene in a matter which is none of its business.

Dublin City Council and its chief executive made the call on this and their decision should be final.

However, this being Ireland I fully expect in the coming days to hear mealy-mouthed calls from craven politicians - particularly those in rural areas where sales of Brooks tickets were highest - that the 'good of the country' should be put ahead of the rights of hundreds of Dublin citizens.

Should senior politicians reach a deal here - ie, cave in absolutely - we can expect to see them pictured at the gig and I've a pretty good idea just how they'll be attired.

Cowboy hats for a cowboy country.

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