Garth: It's a 'simple yes' from authorities for five gigs
Country music superstar Garth Brooks has offered to swim, fly or crawl to Ireland for a meeting with the Irish premier Enda Kenny to get his cancelled comeback extravaganza back on.
In a press conference streamed online from Nashville, Tennessee, the singer said the planning system for concerts in Ireland should be set aside to let the controversial five night run go-ahead after licences were refused.
“I will do whatever it takes except cancelling on people,” Brooks said.
“If the prime minister himself wants me to, I will crawl, swim of fly over this weekend and sit on my knees and beg.”
Behind the scenes talks are ongoing tonight between Dublin City Council and the promoters of the scrubbed gigs Peter Aiken over the decision to refuse the full five night run.
The planners had said licences would be granted for three nights, with two refused leaving 160,000 fans who have already bought tickets without a show.
The top selling US singer, who turned his back on touring to raise his family in Oklahoma 13 years ago, had issued an all-or-nothing ultimatum last week after the shock licence refusal by planners, saying he would play the five nights or none at all.
The only other time concert promoters in Ireland can recall a licence for a major entertainment event being refused was 11 years ago when the renewed Lisdoonvarna Festival was blocked by a county council.
The star said to choose one show over another “would be like asking to choose one child over another”.
City chiefs, concert promoters and stadium owners have been summoned before a parliamentary watchdog to account for the fiasco which is estimated will cost the country’s recovering economy more than €50m – not to mind the reputational damage that music figures, promoters, tourist bosses and politicians have pointed to.
Brooks hit out at the licensing system in Ireland and later tempered his remarks.
“The system is flawed,” the singer said.
“It’s not my country to say that so let me take that back. It’s my opinion that the Irish system got some weight on it and buckled.”
But Brooks reiterated that the licensing and planning system for concerts should be set aside to allow him to play to 400,000 fans in Dublin’s Croke Park over five nights and reviewed after that.
The Irish concerts were seen by the singer and the promoters as unique and separately planned from the world tour - details of which are to be confirmed in the next week.
Brooks described the stage set up as a one-off with a video screen 255 feet wide and 20 feet tall.
Dublin Lord Mayor Christy Burke and Owen Keegan, the chief executive of the council, were understand to be attempting to thrash out a resolution to the five-night ban.
Any change to the council ruling of last week will be seen as a U-turn on a planning decision that city chiefs originally insisted could not be appealed or reviewed but might have been challenged in the courts.
Speculation remains that a deal might be done to allow the three-night run on the original dates July 25-27 and allow the additional two nights to take place at some stage later in the year.
The crux of the issue involved the deal with planners to allow the redevelopment of Croke Park, the headquarters of Ireland’s Gaelic Athletic Games, in the 1990s – it limited the numbers of concerts at the venue to three a year, a figure already reached when One Direction wowed tens of thousands of fans earlier in the summer.
Residents around the stadium in north inner city Dublin remain concerned about road closures and anti-social behaviour which large numbers of music fans bring.
One group threatened legal action over the five-night run although the licence was rejected before any papers were lodged in the courts.
One injunction sought from the High Court to try to block the concerts was struck out after the cancellation was announced and arrangements made to refund ticket holders.
At one stage in what has become an increasingly bizarre debate over concert planning, the Lord Mayor suggested local residents around Croke Park who are in favour of the shows were seeking an approach to US President Barack Obama to try to break the impasse.
The White House dismissed any suggestion of such high level intervention and the US Embassy in Dublin politely batted it away.
“No residents in the Croke Park area contacted us regarding the Garth Brooks concerts. If they did, we would say that it’s a matter for local authorities and the private parties involved,” a spokeswoman said.
Amid the long stand-off between city planners, Brooks’ promoters and residents, the Mexican ambassador also got involved by telling the Lord Mayor when he met him at the Mansion House yesterday that he would offer his diplomatic skills if needed.
When the issue was raised in the Dail parliament in Dublin for a second day running the chair, Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett, tried to restore some dignity to affairs adding: “Please refrain from making a joke of the whole thing.”
The policing issue has also been under examination with the Garda revealing that it had cleared the five night run from policing and public safety point of view.
The force is paid €70 an hour per officer to police such big events.