BE PART OF THE TEAM

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 8°C Sunday 25 October 2020
Advertisement

GAA respond as Arlene Foster among those to voice 'deep concern' over celebrations in Omagh

The Association defended its pandemic protocols but echoed the First Minister’s concerns about celebratory gatherings.

Dungannon Thomas Clarkes fans celebrate their side's first Tyrone SFC in 64 years, scenes which led to criticism in relation to the lack of adherence to public health guidelines in Northern Ireland.
Dungannon Thomas Clarkes fans celebrate their side's first Tyrone SFC in 64 years, scenes which led to criticism in relation to the lack of adherence to public health guidelines in Northern Ireland.

ULSTER GAA HAVE reiterated calls for spectators to stay off the pitch after footage of Dungannon Thomas Clarkes fans celebrating their club winning the Tyrone Senior Football Championship with no adherence to social distancing sparked criticism from Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster among others.

First Minister Foster on Monday morning tweeted: “Deeply concerned about the images from yesterday’s GAA match” — a reference to footage of Clarkes supporters congregating at close quarters on the pitch in Omagh after Dungannon clinched their first Tyrone Football title in 64 years.

Separate footage taken on Sunday night and posted on social media also showed members of the victorious team and its jubilant fans celebrating the club’s dramatic 8-7 penalty shootout victory over Trillick on a street back in Dungannon.

The DUP leader added:

Significant milestone for Dgn (Dungannon) but Covid-19 is no respecter of victories. Other events being responsible. Sport & health will be the losers. @UlsterGAA need to address this. Serious questions arising from videos.

At the weekend, 398 new positive Covid-19 cases were recorded in Northern Ireland, with almost 1,000 in the past week — a trend which Northern Ireland’s health minister Robin Swann has described as being “deeply concerning” as key figures in Westminster continue to hint at a second UK-wide lockdown.

Ulster GAA released a statement on Monday afternoon in response to the criticism of fans’ conduct by various political and media figures, as well as questions surrounding the Association’s own perceived failure to prevent such events from occurring.

It was noted in this statement that the on-pitch celebrations in Omagh “not only breached GAA protocols but, and much more significantly, public health guidelines”, and that “the post-match scenes did not portray the Association in a positive light.”

Be part
of the team

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership.

Become a Member

The full statement read: “In light of post-match scenes following yesterday’s Tyrone Senior Football Championship Final, Ulster GAA is strongly re-iterating the GAA’s message that no spectators should enter the field of playing following games.

“The GAA has put in place protocols surrounding all aspects of the playing of games and, for the greater part, they have been universally observed. Over the weekend there were adult County Finals in six of our nine counties and evidence from across the province is that these protocols were adhered to, with spectators remaining in the stand during post-match presentations.

However, the on-pitch celebration scenes following the Tyrone County Final in Omagh not only breached GAA protocols but, and much more significantly, public health guidelines. Ulster GAA fully realises that this was a moment of great joy for the Dungannon Clarkes Club in winning their first County title since 1956 and congratulations to them on this success. The dramatic nature of the conclusion of the game probably added to the exuberance but we are living in a pandemic and the post-match scenes did not portray the Association in a positive light.

“The GAA has led the way in its response to this pandemic at community level and has safely returned players and spectators to our games in a safe and responsible way. Ulster GAA has worked closely with our Counties co-operating with Governments and public health agencies adhering to the restrictions and conveying wider public health messages to our members.

The GAA has acted in a positive manner since the outbreak of the pandemic, with attendances at games strictly regulated. Our supporters have responded positively and responsibly but last night’s scenes undoubtedly placed GAA members and their local community at greater risk to Covid-19. It also potentially undermines the GAA case, and indeed the case for wider sport, to be permitted to have increased numbers attend our games.

“With more County Finals due in the coming weeks, Ulster GAA is again appealing to all our units to behave responsibly. The scenes of last night cannot be repeated or we will risk going back to a position where all games will be played behind closed doors.”

About the author:

Read next:

COMMENTS (49)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel