Garda investigates alleged breaches of Covid-19 rules at premises near Croke Park

Videos on social media showed large crowds gathering to socialise and drink near stadium

Limerick and Cork fans arrive at Croke Park for the All-Ireland senior hurling championship final. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Limerick and Cork fans arrive at Croke Park for the All-Ireland senior hurling championship final. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

 

An Garda Síochána is investigating alleged breaches of Covid-19 regulations at a licensed premises near Croke Park, after large crowds of GAA fans gathered to socialise and drink on the streets near the stadium on the day of the All-Ireland senior hurling final.

Some 40,000 spectators were permitted into Croke Park for the game on Sunday, which saw a dominant Limerick team beat Cork 3-32 to 1-22.

Large crowds gathered to socialise and drink along the streets near the stadium, with little social distancing and few people wearing face masks, according to videos circulated on social media.

A Garda spokesman said gardaí responded to a number of reports of crowds gathering with little social distancing in place, and anti-social behaviour.

“Gardaí conducted a number of inspections of licensed premises in the Croke Park area. A number of these premises were asked to temporarily cease trading in the interest of public safety,” the spokesman said.

“Gardaí are carrying out enquiries into alleged breaches of Covid regulations at one of these premises,” he said.

Arts and live entertainment industry groups have criticised scenes of large crowds before and after the hurling match, given the live events sector remained largely closed.

Jackie Conboy, co-founder of the Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland, said the scenes at Croke Park had “seriously angered” workers in the arts and live music sectors.

“You can put 40,000 people into Croke Park, but an outdoor event I’m doing tomorrow can only have 200 people … What’s the difference?” he said.

“People in the streets, coming into and out of the stadium, there was a very small percentage wearing masks,” he said.

Mr Conboy said he did not begrudge the GAA, and the fact a 40,000-person event was able to go ahead was positive. However, the All-Ireland final did highlight the current “discrimination” the arts and events industry faced.

The reopening of the sector had been constantly put on “the long finger,” and the impact for those working in the industry had been “horrendous,” he said.

Justin Green, a promoter and member of the Event Industry Alliance, criticised the large numbers at Croke Park, and Government’s failure to properly engage with the industry.

“This is a shameful indictment of Government, which demonstrates a clear and blatant disregard for the live entertainment and event sector, and shows complete contempt for every Irish citizen,” he said.

Industry groups are to meet Minister for Culture and the Arts Catherine Martin on Wednesday, to discuss the reopening of the sector.

The Cabinet is to finalise a plan on Friday setting out timelines for the reopening of the arts and live entertainment sector, among a phased rolling back of other remaining restrictions.

Blindboy Boatclub, part of the Rubberbandits comedy duo, said current limits on live entertainment were “bizarre,” given the numbers at the hurling match.

“Why is a huge big match with 40,000 people allowed to happen, but then I’m doing a gig down the road and the cap was about 400 people and everybody had to be kept at these strange little tables where they weren’t allowed to interact, and it was outdoors as well,” he told RTÉ News at One.

“I’m thrilled that Limerick got to have that win yesterday, it seems wonderful to see so many people able to enjoy themselves, but from the arts community it’s weird for us because it just doesn’t make sense,” he said.