Residents threatened with legal action for disrupting U2 exit

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The Independent Online

Angry residents reached an uneasy truce with the GAA last night over a row caused by the removal of the massive U2 stage at Dublin’s Croke Park.

Earlier, protesting residents had been told they could be liable for financial losses to the band running to “multiple millions of euros”.

A group of 50 residents were handed letters from promoters MCD early yesterday morning warning them that preventing the removal of stage equipment was against the law.

“We now put you on notice that we will seek legal redress to recoup all financial losses incurred as a result of your actions,” the letter states. “These substantial losses include, but are not limited to, losses incurred by U2 and/or Live Nation Global Touring from potentially cancelled shows. Such losses can be expected to run into multiple millions of euros.”

A spokesman for MCD did not return calls yesterday.

The protests mounted by local residents delayed the movement of the band's stage — but were eventually called off after the GAA apologised for the upheaval caused by the operation.

Locals began the demonstrations early yesterday morning when U2's crew started to move the stage, eventually causing 50 trucks carrying some of the stage, TV screens, lighting and sound equipment to miss the intended morning ferry to Gothenburg in Sweden.

Lengthy talks aimed at ending the dispute over noise caused by the operation led to a statement from the GAA's director general promising to engage more with residents at future events.

“We thank the local community for their understanding and co-operation in assisting the efforts to bring about a resolution and we apologise for any inconvenience caused to residents in the last 48 hours,” said Paraic Duffy.

“We have listened carefully to their views and we are committed to a process of dialogue which will be consultative in its nature in an effort to achieving the best possible outcome for all concerned in the running of the major events at Pairc an Chrocaigh.”

Croke Park’s pitch was returned to the ground yesterday afternoon. Workers moved quickly to lay the sod in advance of the weekend's three All-Ireland quarter-final matches.

The bank holiday weekend triple-bill will see Cork take on Donegal and Tyrone against Kildare on Sunday. Dublin are set to take on Kerry on Monday.

The pitch was ripped up prior to the gigs in order to facilitate the 390-tonne ‘Claw' structure.

The surface was replaced with sand before metal sheeting was laid down to facilitate the crowds.

There has been ongoing tension over the last number of years at the number of events staged in Croke Park, with locals claiming the stadium is now used for 26 weekends a year, well in excess of similar arrangements in cities such as Cardiff.

The protests centred around the continuous 44-hour period from 1am yesterday which Dublin City Council gave the band to dismantle the stage.

Last night, a spokesman for the residents said they had received numerous promises over the years about disruption at the stadium.

“This time around we have sent a message, and hopefully one that is heard because quite often we feel like we are baying at the moon,” said Dave Purdue.

“Really, we are at a point where enough is enough.

“The 48 hours was the straw that broke the camel's back on this one. There have been plenty of new dawns over the years. I think actions will speak a lot louder than press releases.”

The protests resulted in some trucks missing a ferry and departing several hours late.

“We should all not be talking to you and [should be] on a boat,” said the tour's production director, Jake Berry.

He said that the band did not want to risk accidents by driving heavily laden trucks past protesters outside the stadium.

“It affects the tour schedule. Read that any way you want,” he said. The band were told of the protests at about 5am yesterday when their private jet landed in Nice, France, where they are staying inbetween gigs.

“It's just really put a damp squib on something that was a fantastic experience and fantastic show,” said Mr Berry.

The band will play Gothenburg on Friday and Saturday before travelling to Gelsenkirchenin, Germany, on Monday, and Chorzow in Poland, on 6 August.

From The Belfast Telegraph