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Minister hopeful of bigger crowds returning for sporting events

Stephen Donnelly was speaking ahead of NPHET’s meeting on Thursday.

The Aviva Stadium.
The Aviva Stadium.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

MINISTER FOR HEALTH Stephen Donnelly is hopeful the capacity restrictions at sporting events in Ireland will soon be removed.

Ahead of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) meeting on Thursday, Donnelly said he believes some restrictions will be eased before the end of the month.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Donnelly responded to the question of capacity crowds at matches.

Ireland are due to begin their Six Nations campaign at home to Wales on Saturday 5 February, while the GAA’s Allianz Leagues begin the previous weekend as the inter-county action commences.

“If advance warning could be given for people to plan, I think that would be fantastic, but I just don’t want to raise hopes in an unhelpful way.

“I bumped into a hero of mine, Johnny Sexton, earlier this week. He, very understandably, said, ‘can we get back to a full crowd at Lansdowne Road for the Wales game? As we did for the autumn internationals.’

“I can tell you there is nothing I would like more than to hear the roar of 50,000 people at the start of February.

“We have to get the balance right. We need to move forward, and put Omicron behind us, but not be foolish and move too quickly that causes risks we don’t need to deal with.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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