Republic of Ireland news

Gardaí investigating Dublin GAA footballers' training session

The GAA said it is “extremely disappointed” that members of the Dublin squad were seen taking part in a training session earlier this week"
Cate McCurry, PA

Gardaí are investigating alleged breaches of Covid-19 regulations after members of the Dublin senior football club took part in a training session.

Officers warned that anyone found to have breached the rules will be issued with a fine.

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) said it is “extremely disappointed” that members of the Dublin squad were seen taking part in a training session earlier this week.

In a statement, gardai said: “An Garda Síochána is making inquiries into reports of alleged breaches of Covid regulations.

“The Health Act 1947 Regulations 2020, as amended, are currently in force.

“Regulation 11 places restriction on training events. Regulation 11 is not declared to be a penal regulation.

“If gardai identify potential breaches of the public health regulations – travel restrictions – a fixed payment notice may be issued where appropriate.

“An Garda Síochána has no further comment at this time.”

The GAA said today it will also investigate the allegations and issue disciplinary proceedings against those who breached restrictions.

The Irish Independent reported that at least nine players attended a GAA pitch in north Dublin at about 7am yesterday, where the group took part in training drills.

In a statement, a GAA spokesman said: “It is with frustration and extreme disappointment that the GAA acknowledges reports today of a potential breach of both our own Covid guidelines and those of the Government relating to the restrictions in place around team training.

“Less than 48 hours ago, the association reiterated its commitment to these current guidelines and called for continued compliance in the weeks ahead.

“The GAA will pursue the allegations with the units in question at the earliest opportunity and will invoke any necessary disciplinary processes as appropriate.

“In the meantime, while we acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of counties and clubs have complied in an appropriate and responsible way with the restrictions currently in place, we once again call on our members and units to uphold the integrity of the association as part of our ongoing efforts to play our role in thwarting the virus and ensuring a return to activity when it is safe to do so.”

Pictures of the training session emerged just hours after Croke Park circulated a warning to all clubs and counties that any breaches of Covid-19 rules would put plans to return to training in “serious jeopardy”.

The Government confirmed on Tuesday March 30 that senior county footballers will be allowed to resume training sessions from April 19.

Alan Dillon, Fine Gael’s spokesman for sport and a former Mayo footballer, said: “An immediate investigation must take place and I believe it is up to Dessie Farrell and the Dublin management team to make a statement in relation to this breach of the public health guidelines.

“Innisfails GAA club must also clarify why training was allowed to take place on their grounds.

“It is possible that the Dublin players shown training in the photos were there under pressure from the Dublin management team.

“We all understand the ultra-competitive environment of the Dublin panel but there is no excuse for an organised training session in breach of Covid guidelines.

“I would warn against any knee-jerk reactions or indeed targeting of abuse at the players in question here. We need a full investigation to establish what happened.”

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