Garth Brooks has spoken of his “heartbreak” at learning of the cancellation of his gigs – but said that he is still willing to press ahead if some last-minute solution arrives.
However such salvation appeared vanishingly remote yesterday, as details began being released on how fans can claim money back (see facing page), and with Irish premier Enda Kenny ruling out any new emergency law to allow the gigs to proceed.
It has also emerged Belfast man Peter Aiken, of Aiken Promotions, has been called before the Irish parliament’s transport and communications committee to answer questions over the affair.
Mr Aiken has accepted the invitation, and is expected to appear on Friday morning.
Just as that news was breaking yesterday, an e-mail was released from Mr Brooks himself, in which he told of his despair at what had unfolded.
The e-mail, understood to have been sent yesterday directly to Mr Aiken, said: “I was informed yesterday (Tuesday) that the shows are cancelled and the refunds will begin on Monday.
“I cannot begin to tell you how badly my heart is breaking right now.
“I hope you understand that to play for 400,000 people would be a dream, but to tell 160,000 of those people that they are not welcome would be a nightmare.
“To do what the city manager suggests (play three shows and not all five) means I agree that is how people should be treated and I just can’t agree with that”.
The e-mail, released by the promoter’s PR wing yesterday evening, continued: “Our guys are still en route and if there is any chance that the five planned concerts can be salvaged and nobody is being let down then we can proceed as planned until the refunds begin.
“If you tell me: ‘Garth, thanks but it’s over’, I will cease my efforts and bring our people and gear back to the States.
“If you think for any reason that the ‘powers that be’ in Ireland can fix this, then I will faithfully go to the last second.
“Please let me know how to proceed.
“All my gratitude, respect, and love to you and Ireland”.
It then ends simply with his initial, “g”.
It came hours after taoiseach Enda Kenny rejected calls for emergency laws to be brought in to rescue the gigs.
In the Dail yesterday, the cancelled concerts dominated leader’s question time, with opposition Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin appealing for such legislation to be passed.
“Surely the government should have intervened at some stage in this debacle,” he said.
“Many hoteliers, restaurant owners, publicans, young people looking for work, simply can’t believe that the country can almost nonchalantly say we don’t need that”.
But Mr Kenny said the Government risked being accused of “doing down” the rights of north Dublin residents living around the stadium and interfering with the planning process if it intervened.
Describing the fall-out as a “bitter economic lesson”, the taoiseach said he has ordered a review of the planning process for major events.
“It’s a major loss to the country, to the goodwill and good feeling of all those fans of Garth Brooks that this is lost, not to mention the hard economic loss to people here,” he said. “It’s a mess”.
All 400,000 tickets to the gig had been sold in February, and the promoters then applied for a licence in April.
This was granted by Dublin City Council last week – but only for three of the five gigs.
The decision followed objections from residents surrounding the stadium, who feared the disruption which five consecutive nights of sell-out shows would bring.
The decision prompted Mr Brooks to declare that he would either play all or none.
Peter Aiken, speaking yesterday morning on RTE, said: “This would’ve been a spectacular show, and it couldn’t have gone anywhere else. This rumour started that we could move it to another stadium... We couldn’t have done it”.
He had previously said that much of the paraphernalia for the shows – which had been due to run from June 25 to 29 –was being purposely built for Croke Park.
He added: “You presume you’re going to get the licence,” adding: “I never got any indication this was in trouble”.
Dublin City Council and the GAA – headquartered at Croke – are also being called before the Oireachtas’ this week, as well as Mr Aiken.