Empty stands common lately at MW Hire O'Moore Park, Portlaoise. Photo: Paul Dargan
Creative solutions should be found to allow more fans in Laois and Offaly go to GAA matches in the county grounds of their respective counties, according to a Laois Offaly TD.
Speaking in the Dáil this week local Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley called on the Taoiseach Micheál Martin to come up with 'creative solutions' to allow more fans got to games. He said other countries such as Scotland have found solutions.
“I raise the matter of matches and games and the capacity of stadiums. I understand that we have to reduce the risk and that it is a balancing act but the rules set out that 100 may attend matches outside Dublin and in a stadium of over 5,000 capacity, up to 200 can attend," he said.
Dep Stanley said that is less than 1% capacity, in stadiums over 25,000. He claimed it equates to one person seated where there is a capacity for 100.
"At the same time, we allow 50 to 100 people for indoor gatherings. There are stadiums such as O'Moore Park in Portlaoise and O'Connor Park in Tullamore which have a capacity of over 25,000.
“The problem relates to before and after matches, with people congregating and getting people through turnstiles. However, some stadiums have several turnstiles and several ways in and out. I ask that this be revisited, as well as for grounds with smaller capacity.
“The reason I raised this with the Taoiseach is that we should be able to increase attendances safely at open-air events to 3-4% as this would allow for closer to 1,000 to attend games. This would be one person to every 25-30 seats.
“On the issue of getting people in and out of venues with social distances, Scotland has put in place measures where spectators leave the stands in short intervals and maximise the number of exit points.
"We need more creative solutions to allow supporters to attend games safely and protect public health,’’ concluded the Laois Offaly constituency poll-topper.