News Column

Irish ministers pressed to save Garth Brooks's five concerts

July 12, 2014

Henry McDonald Ireland correspondent



The Irish government is under pressure to save a series of shows by the country and western singer Garth Brooks from being cancelled in a row between residents of Dublin's north inner city and concert promoters.

Five sell-out concerts by Brooks were scheduled to be held at the end of this month at the 80,000-capacity Croke Park stadium, home of the Gaelic Athletic Association.

But threats of legal action by residents near the ground and then the intervention of Dublin city council which limited the license to three concerts prompted Brooks to threaten not to perform at all in the Irish capital.

Even while part of his vast stage equipment is crossing the Atlantic, Brooks has said it is "all five or nothing". Cancelling two out of the five concerts would mean 160,000 fans would have to be refunded.

The will-he-won't-he controversy over Brooks's gigs has dominated the news agenda in Ireland over the last few days, pushing an important cabinet reshuffle down the television, radio and newspapers schedules.

It was the first issue raised in questions to the deputy prime minister on Thursday. Yesterday the Fine Gael-Labour coalition announced that a special Irish parliamentary committee set up to solve the row had been postponed.

Brooks has rejected a compromise proposal from the council which would have allowed two matinee shows before the three night-time gigs starting on 25 July. Ruling out playing two concerts on Saturday and Sunday between 2pm and 6pm, and then 8pm to 11pm, Brooks said: "To treat 160,000 people differently than all the rest and to see a show other than how it was meant and created is wrong."

While people living in and around Croke Park stadium appear by and large to oppose staging five concerts, hoteliers, publicans and some politicians have claimed the cancellation of Brooks' gigs will inflict damage on the economy.

It is estimated that the influx of tens of thousands of country music fans into the city will generate up to euros 160m (pounds 127m) in the last week of July.

More than 400,000 people have bought tickets for the shows - in a country of less than five million - and almost every hotel and B&B in the city was fully booked before the concerts came under threat.

Captions:

Country and Western star Garth Brooks has been booked for five concerts from 25 July at Cork Park stadium in Dublin


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Source: Guardian (UK)


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