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Stephen Donnelly says he was 'concerned' at footage of crowds after GAA hurling final

He urged those in attendance who were “too close to people for too long” to go and get tested.

Image: Sam Boal

HEALTH MINISTER STEPHEN Donnelly has said that he was “concerned” at footage from after the GAA hurling final at Croke Park on Sunday, but added that there will be no additional restrictions for those attending upcoming GAA finals.

The comments come after the Government was criticised for allowing 40,000 at Croke Park to watch the All-Ireland hurling final on Sunday, without a requirement to be vaccinated, tested, or contact traced, while live events are not yet permitted.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland this morning, the Minister said: “I was concerned at some of the footage I saw after the event.

What I would say is that for anybody who was with socialising after the event, who may feel they were in a higher risk environment, that people were too close to each other for too long, the advice is to go and get a PCR test, centres are open from all over the country… it was just give people that peace of mind.

Given those concerns, when asked whether there will be added restrictions on upcoming GAA finals where 40,000 people will be in attendance again, Donnelly replied:

“I will be very surprised if there are any changes, given how soon those events are happening.” 

NPHET is meeting today, and the Minister said he will be speaking to the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan about those discussions this evening. 

It comes after the chief medical officer said last night that he would have no concerns over an event like Electric Picnic going ahead if it is restricted to vaccinated people.

Dr Tony Holohan said he would not have a “major concern” from a public health perspective about large scale outdoor events, such as the Electric Picnic, proceeding with only those who are fully vaccinated attending.

We wouldn’t have a concern, from a public health point of view, to express about an event that happened that was confined to vaccinated people.

“We are in a slightly different position than when we would have considered some of these things earlier in the year, in the level of disease that we have in the population.

“We now have vaccinated people with the disease, who are symptomatic and are capable of transmitting this disease to other people.

But the risk of a vaccinated person transmitting the disease and it being picked up by another vaccinated person, although they exist, they’re very, very small.

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“So we wouldn’t have a major concern to express in public health terms about that, if it can be achieved.”

Holohan added that unvaccinated people should not attend the upcoming All Ireland football finals: “As an unvaccinated person, it’s really not a responsible place to be.”

When Donnelly was asked about whether events like Electric Picnic can go ahead, given that 40,000 are allowed to watch a GAA final, he said that requests by the entertainment sector are “reasonable”, but added that there should be “more pilots to scale up these events”.

I think the questions being raised by the entertainment sector are very reasonable, they see these large sporting events and they say ‘Can we not now apply a similar approach to music?’

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