Newry.ie
Newry and Armagh MLA  Justin McNulty MLA has welcomed the return of Gaelic Games at the weekend and has used the opportunity to call on the Executive to review its ban on spectators attending outdoor gatherings.

Mr McNulty said, ‘After what seems to have been an eternity, this week saw the return of Gaelic Games to our local clubs.  Whilst this was great for those participating, those of us who are now relegated to the side-line or the stand are just craving for the day when we can return to the pitch side and watch a game of football, hurling or camogie.’

‘GAA clubs and volunteers have been central to the community response to COVID19 and as restrictions are eased in many parts of our society and our economy, people want to return to a sense of normality. Being able to attend a local club or inter-county match is a key part of our lives here and yet those of us Gaels in the six counties cannot attend a game whilst those in the rest of Ireland can.  This is wrong, we are following medical advice or we are not.’

Back in April the Chief Medial Offices North and South signed a Memorandum of Understanding seeking to coordinate medical advice and practices on an all island basis.  Now we have the ridiculous position where games in Castleblaney, Shelagh, Clontibret and Tyholland can go ahead with spectators cheering on their team whilst neighbouring clubs in Crossmaglen, Culloville, Derrynoose and Middletown are expected to operate under completely different rules.   This is exactly the sort of situation that the Memorandum of Understanding between the two Chief Medical Officers was supposed to solve. Apart from undermining the all-island nature of sport and Gaelic Games, it is leaving spectators here deeply frustrated and confused.’

We need the Executive to review their guidance for the attendance of spectators at outdoor sporting events.  I fully appreciate the importance of the public health message.  People must take personal responsibility for their actions and for ensuring they are complying with public health guidance and social distancing guidelines.  What better way to blow of the cobwebs and improving mental health than getting back cheering on your local team in a safe, outdoor and managed environment.’
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