Friday, July 4th 2014
- Debacle surrounding the Garth Brooks concerts is proof that we need to review the licencing system for concerts and outdoor events
- Must ensure tickets cannot be sold until a licence is granted
The fallout from Dublin City Council’s decision to refuse to grant licences for two out of the five Garth Brooks gigs has resulted in a meaningless blame game which is getting us nowhere. Trying to apportion blame to the promoters, or the City Manager, or the operators of Croke Park is pointless at this stage.
The reality is everyone involved was playing by the rules as they currently stand. Under our planning laws, events for more than 5,000 people require a licence. And there is nothing to stop promoters selling tickets before the licence is granted. In fact, doing so is probably the norm. The difference is, they got caught out this time round, and consumers are suffering as a result.
According to the current legislation, the application for a licence must be lodged with the local authority 16 weeks before an event, and the authority must allow five weeks to pass before making the decision on whether to grant the licence or not.
An amendment could be made to the current legislation stipulating that tickets cannot be sold until the licence is granted. An onus should be placed on local authorities to ensure the decision is made within a fixed timeframe. It would be acceptable for event organisers to promote the concert in advance, but tickets shouldn’t be sold until the licence is in place.
I do not see how this would cause any major problems. It is unusual for licences not to be granted. But only by changing the system will we ensure that we will avoid a situation in the future where hundreds of thousands of ticket holders are left out of pocket and deeply disappointed.
Clearly, an immediate solution needs to be found for the 400,000 ticket holders who still don’t know for definite whether any or all of the concerts will go ahead in just a few weeks’ time. But we also need to prevent this sort of debacle from happening again in the future.