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Dublin blows its cool over MTV's galaxy of stars

DUBLIN MAY be Europe's capital of cool, but it has still worked itself into a sweat over tonight's MTV music awards. The sight of white stretch limos is enough to unleash a frenzy that can be hard to negotiate, as the rapper Puff Daddy's driver learned this week: As a horde of teenaged fans roared their admiration, a motorcycle courier slid under the car, breaking his leg in the process.

As it happened the excitement was misplaced: the American superstar was lying in his hotel resting his vocal chords for tonight's bash at Dublin's Point theatre.

Hundreds of teenagers have spent the past few days standing outside the city's luxury hotels, fuelled by no more than Red Bull and lustful fantasies.

But some of those who waited outside the event's champagne launch on Tuesday were disappointed by the low star count. Boyzone's lead singer and award presenter Ronan Keating was the only celebrity of note to turn up; but then, as one disgruntled 16-year-old girl observed, he would attend the opening of an envelope.

Nevertheless, the music channel claims that this is the biggest ever rock event andmost would agree that the small city's infrastructure is being stretched to the limit by the stars and their entourages.

Whitney Houston, Britney Spears, Geri Halliwell, Mariah Carey and the Fun Lovin' Criminals have brought with them armies of large scowling bodyguards and enough luxury cars to disgust the city's everyday motorists. That irritation is made worse by the exclusive nature of the occasion.

MTV claims a billion people may watch the awards ceremony on television. But only 1,000 members of the payingpublic will witness the event first hand. Tickets that originally went on sale at Irpounds 22 (pounds 18), are now more likely to cost Irpounds 2,000 on the Dublin black market.

A welter of clubs have been booked for post-ceremony bashes, although the enjoyment of some parties may be curtailed after the seizure at Dublin airport on Sunday of four kilos of cocaine, reportedly destined for the nostrils of pop's finest.

Other likely profiteers include the hundreds of paparazzi who wait patiently for a quick glimpse of The Corrs or Eternal and the real prize of confirming the rumour that Madonna is in town. Yesterday they were briefly rewarded for a damp four hours outside a plush hotel. For 10 seconds, a demure Britney Spears, looking at least four years younger than her official age of 17, emerged to be whisked away in a rather unglamorous people carrier.

At a respectful distance, a clutch of motorcycle couriers had gathered. "We heard about yer man on Tuesday," one explained, referring to the Puff Daddy incident. "None of us would mind a repeat of that episode - imagine the compensation."