Saturday 17 November 2018

'I was sickened' - Mayo fan told by a steward to breastfeed her baby in the toilets at Kildare game last weekend

Diarmuid O'Connor of Mayo in action against Keith Cribbin of Kildare. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Diarmuid O'Connor of Mayo in action against Keith Cribbin of Kildare. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
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Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

A GAA fan says she was left “shocked” and “embarrassed” when she was told by a stadium steward to breastfeed her baby in the toilets at a game last weekend.

Mayo fan Iseult Mangan arrived early at Saturday’s game with Kildare so she could breastfeed her five-month-old baby Senan before St Conleth’s Park in Newbridge filled up with crowds.

But she says a steward told her the seats in the stand were reserved, and she could not use the tiered steps in the stand to breastfeed.

“I needed to feed my baby and after a three-and-a-half-hour car journey and knowing I would be in the stadium for close to four hours I couldn’t manage standing up,” Ms Mangan explained.

“I knew from being in the park before that there were very few seats. The tickets were unreserved seating, that was my understanding. I was told I couldn’t go in and that the seats were specifically reserved for other people. I know some are kept for injured players and VIPs.”

“I met a steward and he said ‘no, sorry you can’t get up here’. I said ‘are there any seats available at all? I’m breastfeeding my baby’. He said ‘you can’t do that here, you can’t do that in the grounds. You can do it in the toilets’.”

“I asked him was he for real,and he simply turned his head and ignored me.

"I was sickened and I was so shocked.”

When Ms Mangan tried to move along the stand, she was again approached by another steward, who this time came to her aid.

“I saw the tiered steps in the stands and went to bring the buggy up the ramp further down to sit on them to feed," she told Independent.ie

“A steward stopped me and said I couldn’t bring the buggy up there. I burst into tears… he was so nice. I explained I needed to sit down on the steps there to feed the baby and ignore what the other man had just said. He couldn’t have been nicer.”

“He called a female steward and told her what had happened and they let me into the stand with the buggy where I sat on the step and fed the baby. They came back to see was I OK and offered to try and find a chair for me.”

Though the stewards were kind to her, and another steward apologised for her experience, Ms Mangan would like a response from the GAA.

“My issue really is to be told to do it in the toilets. If you saw the toilets, they weren’t even flushing.”

“It’s no wonder you see women not going to matches with the family, and just staying at home. Often my husband is working and I take the kids to the games.”

“My issue isn’t with not getting a seat, I would have been happy to do breastfeed on the stand. Because there were other people who needed seats like a couple of pregnant women, elderly people, people on crutches.”

“I’ll never step foot in that stadium again. Even if I was guaranteed that Mayo were to win Sam and they were to be handed the trophy in the stadium I wouldn’t set foot in it.”

“I’m highly embarrassed by the whole thing. I know I shouldn’t be, I don’t want to feel like I’m embarrassed.”

Ms Mangan tweeted her disappointment to the GAA and Kildare GAA after the game. She is hoping that the GAA will adapt a policy to educate stewards about different needs fans may have.

“All I want is that they sit up and make a policy among the stewards in the grounds to have a bit of awareness for people that are different.”

“I know it was the one man, and it was his opinion and not necessarily Kildare GAA’s, but no one expressed any comment on the tweet. Maybe they’re busy. But I have written a letter which I will send to them, and all I want is reassurance that it won’t happen again.”

“The GAA are supposed to promote health and mental health.”

A spokesperson for Kildare GAA said: "Kildare GAA are extremely sorry that this incident occurred and a member of our event team apologised to Iseult Mangan immediately when we became aware of it."

"We have already made the necessary steps to ensure a similar incident will not happen in the future".

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