Mid Ulster MLA Keith Buchanan has welcomed a decision by the GAA to suspend all club games until further notice. However, the DUP MLA said further answers were needed from the sporting body.
The DUP MLA said, “Only today new restrictions have been put into place across the Derry City and Strabane District Council area. Those restrictions will have a huge impact on businesses and society. However, on the day before those regulations took effect, we witnessed people crowded into a GAA match in another part of Co Londonderry.
I welcome the statement from the GAA that club games are to be suspended. This was the only option open following the scenes both in Bellaghy and previously following the Tyrone club final. Many people may see it as closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, and we await to see what impact this game might have on the spread of Covid-19 within the community.
Further answers however are also needed from the GAA as to how this situation was allowed to happen.
The risk assessment carried out for the ground in Bellaghy should be published. We must see the details of how many people were judged could be safely accommodated and what plans were in place to ensure they could be spread throughout the ground. Derry GAA should also state how many stewards were in place to control events within the ground.
There are sports clubs across Northern Ireland experiencing severe difficulties because of a restriction on fans attending matches. Events like those in Bellaghy not only pose a huge threat to public health, but potentially pose a threat to the viability of clubs from other sporting disciplines if they set back the potential for even limited numbers of spectators to attend those games.