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GAA 'not looking for conflict' in public statement to Ronan Glynn and NPHET, says president

The GAA this week asked public health experts to present the data behind a recommendation to play all games behind closed doors.

GAA President John Horan.
GAA President John Horan.
Image: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

GAA PRESIDENT JOHN Horan says the Association meant no criticism of Acting Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn and NPHET in a public statement issued earlier this week. 

Following advice from NPHET, the government announced on Tuesday that all sporting events in the country revert behind closed doors until at least 13 September. 200 people were allowed to attend games prior to this week, a figure which included players, management and officials. 

Amid an outcry from members, the GAA issued a terse statement on Tuesday night, inviting Dr. Glynn and NPHET to present the data behind their recommendation to the government. 

“Following this evening’s unexpected announcement, the GAA invites Dr. Ronan Glynn and NPHET to present the empirical evidence which informed the requirement for the association to curtail its activities”, read the statement. 

“The association will tonight be issuing an invitation to Dr. Glynn to meet with its Covid Advisory Group in this regard without delay. The GAA and its members remain at all times committed to protecting public health.”

Speaking to TheJournal.ie’s Explainer podcast on Wednesday morning, Professor Philip Nolan who chairs the epidemiological modelling advisory group at NPHET, described the GAA’s statement as “a bit headmaster-ish”, and explained the restrictions have been brought in to curb the spread of Covid-19 among supporters who have been congregating before and after games. 

The GAA president appeared on the This Week programme on RTÉ Radio One today, and explained the Association did not intend to criticise public health experts. 

“Our membership were taken by surprise”, said Horan of Tuesday’s announcement.

“It kind of undermined our confidence in our overall response to things with the announcement on Tuesday. We’ve been working very hard with our Covid committee to keep the operation going on the ground. We’re not looking for conflict.

“All we are actually looking for is the data on which the decisions were made. We would like to add that to the data we have been compiling with our Covid committee so we could inform ourselves to make better decisions on the ground and that we, the GAA, are not letting the side down in all of this.

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“It has been said the statement was blunt. I have no question in regard to how Dr. Ronan Glynn or NPHET are performing or doing their job. They are in a very challenging time, as are we. All we wanted was the data because we were surprised with the decision.

“We are not offering a criticism. People look at the statement and you can always interpret what is put in writing, but really the core of it was could we get the data so we could be better informed.

“Part of the statement as well also alluded to that – we encouraged our members to continue to comply with public health guidelines.”

Horan said he has written a personal letter to Dr. Glynn on Thursday, to which he has yet to receive a reply. 

“I haven’t [received a response] and we’re not looking to personally meet Ronan Glynn or Philip Nolan.

“We are quite happy if someone could just supply us with the data and see where the fall down came.”

With reporting by Hayley Halpin

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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