GAA ‘would consider’ any Government request to limit Croke Park entry to vaccinated

Holohan suggests unvaccinated fans should not attend All-Ireland football final

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly speaking to members of the media on Tuesday at Croke Park in Dublin, where Covid-19 community testing was taking place. Photograph: Tom Honan

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly speaking to members of the media on Tuesday at Croke Park in Dublin, where Covid-19 community testing was taking place. Photograph: Tom Honan

 

The GAA said it would consider any request from the Government to change how it manages events at Croke Park after the chief medical officer recommended against allowing unvaccinated people to attend the forthcoming All-Ireland football final or other large outdoor events.

Responding to the comments by Dr Tony Holohan, a GAA spokesman said it was the first time the possibility of Covid certificates being required for such events had been mentioned.

While no approach from the Government had been made on the matter, any request would be considered in due course, the spokesman said.

Covid certificates are currently necessary to eat indoors in restaurants or bars, as well as for overseas travel.

Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday, Dr Holohan said attendance at the forthcoming All-Ireland GAA football final and other large outdoor events should be confined to people who are vaccinated.

The final is due to take place on Saturday, September 11th in Croke Park between Mayo and the winners of Kerry and Tyrone, who play this weekend.

The final was due to take place this weekend but was postponed when Tyrone asked for their semifinal to be deferred because of a Covid-19 breakout in the panel.

In Britain, fans attending Premier League matches are subject to spot checks as to whether they are fully vaccinated or else have had a negative Covid test in the previous 48 hours. The league is looking to introduce vaccine passports at the end of September.

The sight of 40,000 fans at Croke Park last Sunday for the All-Ireland hurling final, many of whom were not wearing masks, was described as “indefensible” by Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney on Tuesday.

Similarly, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said he was “concerned” about the scenes at Croke Park “in terms of people being very closely together without masks”.

Electric Picnic

Meanwhile, organisers of the Electric Picnic festival are calling on Laois County Council to allow its event to go ahead for vaccinated spectators after Dr Holohan said he would not have concerns from a public-health perspective about such a situation.

The risk of vaccinated people transmitting the disease was “very, very small”, Dr Holohan pointed out.

In a statement issued on Tuesday evening, Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Republic, said the organisers were now asking the Laois County Council to “immediately reverse” the decision it took earlier this month to refuse the festival licence.

Mr Benn requested that the council immediately grant the licence on the condition that all concert-goers would be fully vaccinated.

Jackie Conboy, a co-founder of the Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland, said Dr Holohan’s comments came as “a shock”.

“How come it is only now that this is being said? The summer is now gone, and it is very valuable for our industry,” he said.

A meeting between Minister for Arts Catherine Martin and the music industry that was scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed until next Monday following discussions she held with Taoiseach Micheál Martin on the roadmap for reopening.

Singer Christy Moore told The Irish Times Ms Martin should “risk the [party] whip” in standing up for the rights of live performers.

Meanwhile, the number of people receiving the pandemic unemployment payment has fallen below the 150,000 mark for the first time.

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said on Tuesday that 149,436 people would receive the payment this week.This reflected “the steady progress we are making in rolling out the vaccination programme and the continued reopening of the economy”, she said.