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GAA President makes direct appeal to Taoiseach to allow more supporters attend matches

John Horan has said the size of GAA stadia means larger numbers socially distancing is possible.

An empty Semple Stadium in Thurles.
An empty Semple Stadium in Thurles.
Image: Tom O'Hanlon/Inpho

THE PRESIDENT OF the GAA has said the decision not to increase the number people allowed at an outdoor gatherings is “a hammer blow” to the organisation.

Speaking this morning ahead of this weekend’s resumption of club championship games around the country, John Horan told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that the size of a GAA ground allows for greater numbers of people to socially distance. 

At present, government restrictions on gatherings are 50 people indoors and 200 people outdoors. It had been planned that these limits would be expanded to 100 and 500 respectively from next week, but this will now not happen until 10 August at the earliest. 

Horan said this morning this would greatly impact GAA clubs. 

“The change in attendance guidelines has delivered a hammer blow to the organisation. We put the return to the club game first to benefit all our members, and to help our county boards survive for those clubs. 

But our county boards were relying on an increase of 500 as a way of being able to cater for the demand on the ground for our supporters. And they now have the extra burden of attempting to continue to police 200 being in attendance.If you take those that are involved in the actual stewarding of a ground out of it, you’re probably looking at 120 supporters going to a game. If you work out the dimensions of a GAA pitch, it allows for social distancing of four metres between everybody attending the match.

Horan also said that the GAA is encouraging everybody attending a game to wear a face covering and that the smaller numbers in attendance are ” a bit severe” on the organisation. 

“I’d call this morning openly, as President of the GAA, to the Taoiseach and Tánaiste to go back and review those figures for us as an organisation. The risk-factor is 19 to 1 in comparison to indoors,” he added.

Yesterday, organisers of the Eid Al Adha celebration due to take place in Croke Park have asked the government for special permission to allow 500 people to attend the event.

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It follows a successful request from Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin earlier this month for the government to allow places of worship to hold a higher number of people indoors.

Speaking about the large stadia the GAA has access to, Horan said this should be considered when limiting the number of people attending events or matches. 

“We’ve got stadia throughout the country which can cater from anything from 6,000 to 50,000 people, and to say that you could only have 120 supporters in? I think the volunteers in our organisation have acted totally responsibly during the pandemic. And I don’t think if we allowed them to increase the attendance from 200 to 500 that they would act irresponsibly,” he added.

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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