Friday, 16 October 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
Shane Cassells (Fianna Fail)
I will touch on the debate that has been raging in the country over the past 48 hours in respect of the playing of GAA matches this weekend and, in particular, Members of these Houses weighing in and putting pressure on the GAA to concede that the competitions should be abandoned and drawing the false comparison between what has happened at club level in this country and these elite games. What happened after country finals over the past number of weeks was totally wrong. The GAA acknowledged that and came out ahead of the Government by shutting down the club championships two weeks ago.
The inter-county games are elite sport games. They are categorised under the Government's tier plan as elite sport. I listened to medics last night on television speak about how players would celebrate this weekend if they won. They have obviously never seen the dietary plans of elite GAA players because if these players took one pint, they would be off the county panel.
What galls me most is the singular focus on the GAA. There is no consistency in this new-found commentary by some Members of these Houses about sport. Are the same Members unaware that in eight days, the Italians are coming to Dublin to play in the Six Nations and one of their squad tested positive for Covid on Tuesday; or that, on Thursday, a Norwegian team come here to play Dundalk in a Europa League game, which the owners of Dundalk are trying to have switched to Windsor Park, Belfast? I have not heard them call for these games to be called off. People are naturally worried but these elite games are being played in a bubble, behind closed doors and with no fans.They are broadcast on television and will provide people with some joy and hope this weekend. Critically, they are catered for in the tier plan agreed by the Government. I ask that people not try to unpick the plan on television just because a journalist has put the question in their mouth. It is time for people to think for themselves, agree to the plan for the country and be responsible.