So what have we learned from the Garth Brooks debacle? The most screamingly obvious thing is that with 400,000 people buying tickets, country and western is the thing for a significant proportion of the Irish people. And the other is that this cancellation is going to hurt a lot of people and a lot of ‘indigenous business’.
Of course even within that most popular of genres no one else is likely to fill Croke Park for five nights in a row, and the man himself is still saying he doesn’t want to tell 160,000 of them they cannot come.
But you get a hint of the shock even in the chair of the most vocal of the residents groups Eamon O’Brien around Croke Park who clearly had seen the negotiation as some kind of informal bargaining process of the type you see at country marts all over the island north and south.
It’s easy to see how the residents feel put upon. Even on the ‘thin end of the wedge’ principle (Croke Park had already used up two of their allotted nights on
New One Direction earlier in the year) they were pretty much being given nothing but the opportunity to bargain down from four over the allocation to two.
As it happens, that was the dealbreaker than even the Labour Relations Commission could not crack. And the irony is that this is a multimillion pound adventure bring revenue into the country as well as in from the rest of country.
Fianna Fail have proposed draft legislation to grant ministerial powers to override local arrangements in exceptional circumstances. That would certainly unblock the plumbing in the short term.
But in the longer term if large organisations like the GAA want to raise large amounts of cash from mega events like this one, they will need to get better at being good neighbours.