HSE writes to GAA county boards seeking volunteers and facilities

Health services in some local areas keen establish local databases to assist with coronavirus response

Croke Park announced as a drive through test centre. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Croke Park announced as a drive through test centre. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho


The HSE has written to a number of GAA county boards, seeking to establish databases of local volunteers and facilities which may be needed to assist HSE teams responding to coronavirus.

Both the HSE and the GAA said the action was a result of separate initiatives between local community health bodies and county boards. The GAA said its headquarters was being kept informed by the HSE “as a matter of courtesy”.

A spokesman for GAA headquarters said the HSE was establishing local databases at this stage. He said local clubs were keen to offer their halls as testing centres but it might be next weekend before any physical development takes place. He said the GAA was pro-active in offering any help it could.

It is understood the HSE wants to use the GAA network of volunteers to assist with converting local halls for testing and care of patients should the numbers of Covid-19 patients requiring care exceed the capacity of the State’s hospitals.

In a letter to Kildare GAA the local community healthcare division of the HSE asked it “to provide a database of all available volunteers who may be able to support HSE administered local facilities over the next number of weeks”.

It said skills sets identified as part of contingency planning included: all trades including electricians, plumbers, carpenters, IT specialists, cleaners, teachers, special needs assistants, chefs, caterers, drivers and “ train-the-trainers” qualified personnel.

In addition the HSE is looking for retired military / gardaí and others with a similar background in crisis management operations whom it wants “for their background and skills in scheduling, mobilization and coordination tasks that may arise”.

Kildare GAA have identified seven regions within the county, and is asking its members in these regions to submit their details so a database can be established. Kildare GAA said it would be up to the HSE to determine the suitability of facilities for use as additional testing centres, if required.

The GAA said it was aware of similar requests being made locally in counties Tipperary and Cork and was certain that the organisation would offer whatever help it could.

The GAA has previously offered Dublin’s Croke Park and Cork’s Páirc Uí Chaoimh for use as drive-through testing facilities.