There was a time, believe it or not, when Ireland was well known and respected all around our little planet Earth. The Emerald Isle was known for being a hospitable place, a place of great culture and a champion in the World of music. Those qualities were appreciated Worldwide further still when weighed against proportion. People would ask, in admiration, how does a country so small do so much good, in the World of music in particular?
Of course, that is not the case at this stage.
Ireland is now well known as the country that paid billions to the banks while those same institutions laughed at the Government and populace in well-known recordings that have basically been swept under the carpet. Ireland is now known as the country that American (and other) companies can come setup tax free, because its populace will pick up the tax tab. PAYE and PRSI payments now total 50% and over for most in the PAYE sector. Ireland is known as the country where rents, property prices and cost of living are back where they were pre-2007, on the rise, while pay package are, for most, on the decline.
We are also now known as the country that is now turning away major musical events because a few residents close to the event have managed to create enough of a stink that the local council decided to make a name for itself and take action (action curiously quick considering they can’t fix a pot-hole to save their lives).
The spirit of Riverdance is way, way, way behind us at this stage. In fact, we should go ahead and cancel all future Riverdance performances, as frankly some resident somewhere might have their evening tea disturbed by any faint noise drifting in from the show.
As you by now must know, the Garth Brooks concerts scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, 28th and 29th of June, have been cancelled. 300 local residents and their residents association lodged a complaint about the weekday concerts, and that complaint was championed by the local council, and those two concerts are now cancelled.
It is safe to say Ireland is now firmly in focus in World music circles, and for all the wrong reasons.
We used to be a country that got things done, won things, made improvements and advancements in the cultural World and championed the cause of, in particular, music Worldwide.
Now we’re the county that says no.
We’re the country that says no, and bickers violently amongst itself while doing so. Make no mistake, this is a major black-eye for Ireland on not only a national, but also an International level. The fact is, however, we probably should have seen this coming, as this country has gone from being a nation of ‘can-do’ to a nation of negativity in just a matter of years. This is nothing short of a pathetic debacle, and it is a real shame it has come to this. In the last 24 hours the conversations have turned to some of the details with those for and those against tearing into each other with great abandon. The RTE news focused almost entirely on this news last night and indeed there was the inevitable ‘Prime Time’ special on the topic.
The fall-out of this is phenomenal.
Ireland, as a nation, was estimated to potentially benefit by as much as 50 million euros as a direct result of this concert series. As many as 70,000 people were due to come to Ireland for the concerts. Local business would have benefitted dramatically financially from this. Our prestige as a country of music lovers and champions is taking a huge hit.
I will state my stance now before we get into the fall-out, I do not sympathise one bit with the selfish, me-first residents who have managed to scupper a Worldwide phenomenal level event. Why? Simple. I live approximately 10 miles from Phoenix Park. Whenever a concert is held there by a quirk of geographical location and acoustics, I can hear the concert as if it was in my back garden. Suffice to say this summer has been a noisy affair, with the many gigs that have continued on sometimes past 11 pm. This is no doubt the case all around Ireland. You are telling me there are residents around the Aviva Stadium that aren’t able to hear concerts in there? You are telling me there aren’t resident close to Marlay Park that can’t hear the concerts up in that direction?
The reaction of the residents around Croke Park to this event is nothing short of hysterical, selfish and, in my opinion, pathetic.
That’s before we even touch on the fallout we mentioned above.
The financial impact on Ireland is tangible. We were expected to take in approximately 50 million from this concert series, and that will now drop to approximately 30 million. The local business around Croke Park will be the ones that are hit worst, not to mention hotels, restaurants, transport businesses, and others in Dublin. There were as many as 70,000 coming to Ireland for the event, and that number will be slashed now also. Many of those tourists would have stayed longer in Ireland, and would have spent more. You can forget that business, cash and exposure now too. Most of all perhaps, Ireland used to be a place known for major events like Riverdance, and a place that major stars, artists and performers would come to celebrate their music and more with the population of this country. That prestige we used to hold is now truly left in tatters by this debacle.