Media Play Up Irish Rivalry

The U.K. papers are making a big deal about Denis Desmond’s concerns over the Office of Public Works’ handling of a Rolling Stones Phoenix Park gig in Dublin. The OPW said Aiken Productions should run the event and Desmond wants to know why.

“It’s nothing to do with The Rolling Stones and it’s nothing to do with Aiken Promotions,” MCD Productions’ Desmond said, as his legal battle over the act’s summer date rumbles on.

It might seem something of a nebulous argument, as Stones agent John Giddings said the show won’t be happening anyway. But Desmond’s not happy with the way the government decided Aiken should have the gig.

“It’s an ongoing issue. We need to understand the tendering process to be able to bid for Phoenix Park shows in the future. We need to know where we stand,” he said.

“I want to make it very, very clear that I wasn’t trying to stop the show. But it’s also very important to establish exactly how the process works for 2006, 2007, 2008 or whenever.”

He’s still waiting for confirmation when the High Court will hear his challenge to the Office of Public Works decision to turn down his bid to stage the Stones and award the show to Aiken.

The OPW decides who can have the Phoenix Park venue to run an event. It makes its decision based on which tender will best benefit the city. MCD and Aiken both wanted to do the Stones show.

“MCD is arguing that the decision to award the tender to Aiken breached EU law and government procurement policy,” according to the U.K.’s The Sunday Times. The paper also said, “The company [MCD] is claiming that it was wrongly asked to provide further information about its bid after initially tendering for the contract in November. MCD also claims that its bid was more valuable to the OPW than that of Aiken Promotions.”

Last month, the High Court adjourned making a decision and, as the matter is clearly “sub judice,” Desmond isn’t being drawn on the details of the challenge beyond saying it’s “very complicated.”

The Sunday Times, which appears to have lifted the story from sister paper The Irish Times, made much of the so-called rivalry between the two companies even though MCD’s legal battle over Phoenix Park isn’t with Aiken.

It said Desmond’s new August Bank Holiday HiFi Festival, on a 25,000-capacity site at Belvedere House in Co. Westmeath, is a rip-off of the 3-year-old Electric Picnic that Aiken helps festival owner John Reynolds stage a couple hours away at Stradbally House in Co. Laois.

“I suppose it’s flattering that they’ve gone to such lengths to copy it. Let’s see if they can match it,” Peter Aiken told the paper. But he seemed to be playing down the issue by adding, “It’s only a bit of fun at the end of the day.

“I think the papers like to play up the rivalry because it beefs up the story. We’re the two major promoters, it’s a small country and so I suppose that sort of thing is bound to happen,” he told Pollstar.

MCD’s major annual outdoor is the 70,000-capacity Oxegen, which is on the horse racing track at Punchestown. It’s not until July but the tickets went within a week of it going on sale.

It will be headlined by The Who and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

– John Gammon