People ‘have taken foot off pedal of caution’ – former GAA president on All-Ireland match day scenes 

People have “taken their foot off the pedal of caution and it’s a worry”, former GAA President Liam O’Neill said of All-Ireland match day scenes last week. 

he Co Laois man was commenting on the controversial 40,000-strong crowd at the All-Ireland senior hurling final on Sunday, and the scenes of busy pubs and streets before and after the game. 

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, Mr O’Neill said anyone who has the privilege of attending a match should wear their face masks to protect themselves and others. 

He said he was disappointed to hear of gatherings in pubs before and after the match, and said people should celebrate the match results at home. 

“I think it is unfortunate that people congregated in places in the manner in which they did,” Mr O’Neill said. 

“And that they were allowed to do so by pub owners within the premises. 

“I think we need to focus on explanations and education – a constant clear messaging and I’m not quite sure we’ve done that.

“People privileged enough to be at these games have a responsibility.”

Mr O’Neill said the emphasis is on the Government and the GAA to communicate a clear message to ticket-holders. 

“We now have the name and address of everyone going [tot he All-Ireland football final].

“We should constantly communicate and send the message. We have a huge reputation to behold. 

“I’m not sure if the message was clear.”

When pressed from Morning Ireland’s Gavin Jennings that the message was written on tickets and any communication on the game, Mr O’Neill said he believes people may have “taken the foot off the pedal”.

“I think people have taken the foot off the pedal of caution and that’s a worry. 

“You have a privilege, wear a mask please. We have a huge responsibility. This year we had county games first and club second, we have a duty to show how things will work for the club games. 

“People not wearing masks need to be told it’s not acceptable. The Government need to do it more and the GAA as an organisation need to do it more. 

“People who misbehave are endangering the rest of the population.”

Mr O’Neill believes everyone should be vaccinated and, once vaccinated, behave “as if we haven’t”. 

“Even those vaccinated need to wear masks in public, and not to congregate.”

He added that anyone attending matches should arrive on time, enjoy the game and go home afterwards to celebrate.

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