Police, Media Come Down Hard On MCD

The fallout from the brawl at a Swedish House Mafia show at Dublin’s Phoenix Park July 7 is doing nothing to improve relations between promoter MCD and the local police.

The three shows at the 35,000-capacity outdoor venue July 5-8 appear to have sparked a mini crime wave. Nine people were stabbed, eight of them needing medical treatment.

There were 58 arrests and more than 110 charges being filed, mainly for charges of public disorder, drunkenness and drugs.

MTV reported that one man was believed responsible for stabbing four people, with the other incidents resulting from knife fights and broken bottles.

Two young men died from suspected drug overdoses.

Local police met with MCD July 10 and released a statement making it clear that neither party would make further comment until a thorough review of the incident had been carried out.

But on Aug. 2 Justice Minister Alan Shatter made public the covering letter to a report into the event, written by Garda (police) Commissioner Martin Callinan, which is highly critical of MCD for failing to implement appropriate security measures.

MCD chief Denis Desmond says the covering letter was published without any notice or consultation with MCD.
“This was despite an agreement with the Garda Commissioner’s office that further review meetings would be held between both parties prior to the publication of any Garda or MCD reviews,” he told the Irish Independent.

He immediately called for the full report to be published. He said the section that’s been made public is “unbalanced” and that there should now be an independent public inquiry into the events.

He said MCD is complaining to the Garda ombudsman about the way the situation has been handled.

The huge amounts of press coverage the issue has attracted will do little to heal a growing rift between MCD and the police, which are at loggerheads over the amount the force charges to cover the promoter’s festivals and major concerts.

Although various reasons were given for MCD not doing its annual Oxegen Festival this year, sources have told Pollstar one of the main factors was the £400,000 ($626,000) police bill it would have faced. Apparently Desmond felt the cost had spiraled out of control.

Desmond said he believes his shows tend to attract more trouble and therefore more media fuss because his shows tend to be for a younger audience.

“You don’t get these problems at a Celine Dion show,” he explained.

Much of the Irish media has focused on MCD’s alleged shortcomings at the Phoenix Park shows, such as how security was deployed and a lack of CCTV coverage, but the Irish versions of the Sunday Independent and The Times have questioned the findings and pointed out that most of the trouble at the Swedish House Mafia show took place outside the park.

The Times rhetorically asked if MCD is now responsible for policing the streets of Dublin.

Desmond told Pollstar that the main cause of problems at Irish shows is the cheap alcohol available in supermarkets, which means many of the younger audiences are getting drunk on their way to the concert.

“We all used to love to go out and have a few beers but there was a limit to what we drank because we had to pay real money for it,” he said. “We couldn’t get remotely as drunk as kids do nowadays because we couldn’t afford to, and it’s down to the supermarkets selling beer at ridiculously low prices.”

He said he supports the idea of fixing a minimum price level for alcohol, which the UK government is considering, which would prevent supermarkets from stacking their shelves with what’s often no more than a loss leader.

On Aug. 2 in New York, 26 teenagers were taken to hospital with alcohol poisoning before a Wiz Khalifa show.

No alcohol was served at the Jones Beach venue but police claim that some young gig-goers had been found drinking beer and hard liquor in the car park while they were waiting for the concert to begin.