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06.25 4 Sep 2020


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The Minister for Sport Catherine Martin says she is "keen" to lift the restriction on attendance at sports fixtures.

Public health officials are expected to consider how it can be done, following a meeting with top figures from the GAA, FAI and IRFU later.

Until recently up to 200 people were allowed to gather together for a sporting event.

But plans to increase that cap to 500 were axed on August 18th after a spike in infections.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) said it wanted matches played behind closed doors.

The new restrictions drew a curt response from the GAA, which demanded Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn meet with its officials to "present the empirical evidence... without delay".

Minister Martin says she is "keen to see restrictions lifted", but only if it can be squared with the public health advice.

She will bring in the top officials from the GAA, FAI, IRFU and Sport Ireland for a teleconference later with the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and Dr Glynn.

Bosses at the sports bodies are expected to lay out their concerns and suggestions to health officials, with a view to working out how "current restrictions could be addressed".

Earlier this week, Minister Martin also met with the Events Industry Alliance - which is made up of representatives of the music industry, the Association of Irish Festival Events and the Irish Showman's Guild among others.

She described it as a "very useful and informative meeting" and intends to establish a dedicated taskforce for the arts and culture sector in the coming week.

Minister Martin told the meeting she was 'acutely aware' of the balance needed between the health guidelines, actually living with COVID-19 and sustaining livelihoods.

Speaking on Wednesday she said: "I am a musician myself and understand the difficulties faced by the sector.

"I am eager to get our musicians, our performers and all their behind-the-scenes technical support people back to earning a living and doing what they do so well.

"Irish society needs live performance and events."

Additional reporting: Jack Quann

Main image: Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht Catherine Martin at the launch of the Stay and Spend Scheme in Dublin. Picture by: Julien Behal Photography / RollingNews.ie

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Arts Sector COVID-19 Restrictions Sports Catherine Martin Covid-19 Events Industry Alliance FAI GAA IRFU NPHET Public Health Advice Sporting Events Taskforce

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