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Minister of State calls for GAA matches to be cancelled following Covid-19 outbreak in Offaly, Laois and Kildare

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Photo: Tom Burke

Photo: Tom Burke

Photo: Tom Burke

All GAA events should be be cancelled in Offaly, Laois and Kildare following a surge in Covid-19 cases in the three counties, Minister of State Sean Fleming has said.

The Laois-Offally Fianna Fáil TD said allowing matches and other sporting events to continue puts players and any person they come into contact with at risk.

"There are dozens of matches in every county involving hundreds of players this weekend and there are some outbreaks in those areas," Mr Fleming told Midlands 103.

"I'm involved in the GAA myself, and I know players who don't want to go to matches because they're coming home to live with their parents who are vulnerable.

"I know officials who don't want to attend matches because of the same reason. And we have to take a proactive step on that."

Mr Fleming said postponing matches will cause a "major obstruction" to the GAA fixtures, but that "there is the case immediately for the county board to consider postponing all these events."

Meanwhile, on Twitter, Mr Fleming’s Fianna Fail constituency colleague Barry Cowen suggested there was no need for events to be cancelled due to the rise in cases.

“No need to knock one another down with calls to stop this event or close another, simply follow ongoing and any updated professional advices on public health, be vigilant,” Mr Cowen said. “NPHET don’t want to inconvenience people, they want to protect lives,” he added

It comes as Taoiseach Micheál Martin said localised lockdowns may be introduced rather than a nationwide quarantine if the rate of infection continues to rise.

In an interview with the Irish Independent, Mr Martin said the Government had learned from the first lockdown and there would now be “different types of responses to outbreaks”.

Over the past two weeks, 246 cases have emerged in the three counties accounting for 48pc of all cases.

Twenty-two cases are located in Offaly, 19 in Kildare and eight in Laois, while six are in Dublin, and 14 are spread across eight other counties.

Last night, acting chief medical officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, told a Covid-19 briefing that local lockdowns could not be ruled out.

“You can’t rule anything out,” Dr Glynn stated. “We will be monitoring the situation closely.”

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