Leinster GAA Chairman, Pat Teehan
Leinster GAA Chairman Pat Teehan has criticised the latest restrictions put on the GAA after it was announced last night that spectators won’t be permitted to attend games until at least September 13.
The Offaly native has been left disappointed and confused, just like many others, after the latest set of guidelines were announced.
Teehan, who is in his first year as Leinster GAA Chairman, has also revealed that the GAA provided a detailed document to NPHET a month ago and recently attempted to meet with them before the latest guidelines were announced.
“It is important that we acknowledge we are in a serious pandemic. The Government and NPHET are not doing this to spite people, they are doing because they consider it to be the best course but there is serious confusion out there.
“As an organisation we had looked to meet NPHET before any new measures were brought in and we are disappointed that this didn’t take place because if it had, some of this confusion wouldn’t be out there.
“What people might not know, about four weeks ago, we put forward a detailed document to NPHET and what we were looking for was that grounds with a capacity of over 5,000 to be treated differently.
“Take O’Moore Park in Portlaoise for example, you could have put in six pods around the stadium and you could segregate people in the different pods. It means you people could come in different entrances and leave through different exits. This thing NPHET has of being afraid of people congregating before and after games would be gone.”
There is widespread confusion in the GAA communities around the County and Mr Teehan has echoed that confusion and called for urgent clarity from NPHET and the Government.
“At the moment we can play games but only allowed 15 at an outdoor event so which takes precedence? We need urgent clarification on that.
“With underage games, how do we expect parents to bring their children up to 30 miles to a game? What do they do, go home or sit in the car?
“We are being told all along to get out in the open and yet, now we are being told we can’t go out in the open.
“What is really disappointing from a GAA perspective is that from day one, we were out there helping the people. People were cocooning and we were ensuring that they weren’t left in isolation.
“Across the country, we provided our facilities free of charge to help fight the pandemic and we showed great responsibility on a couple of occasions, despite criticism from our own members at the time, by not going as far as the Government were allowing and we did this because we wanted to ensure the correct protocols were in place and that members were safe in their environment.
“When it came to the return of games, the protocols we put in place were above and beyond.
“NPHET haven’t given the reasons as to why they are not allowing spectators unless I am missing something, there has been nothing evidence based.”
The Leinster GAA chief also agreed that County Boards are going to come under huge financial strain as their main stream of income has now been cut out from beneath their feet.
“The 200 attendance cap wasn’t bringing in huge money but it was bringing in something. At the moment, unless you are streaming a match, you are running them at a loss by the time you pay for the use of the facilities, the referee and whatever.”