Additional reporting by Vivienne Clarke.
A former Mayo footballer and Fine Gael TD, Alan Dillon has called for an investigation into the alleged breach of Covid-19 restrictions by a group of Dublin footballers.
The Irish Independent reported at least nine Dublin squad members were seen taking part in an early-morning training session at Innisfails GAA Club in Balgriffin.
Gardaí are now investigating after they became aware of the matter, according to The Irish Times.
Pictures of the session showed players engaged in what appeared to be a non-contact drills session.
Mr Dillion said the story was “highly disappointing” and “an immediate investigation must take place”.
The Castlebar man said Dublin manager Dessie Farrell and his wider management team must make a statement on the matter, in addition to Dublin GAA and the Innisfails GAA club.
GAA Covid-19 Statement Following Allegations of Breach of Guidelines #GAA
— The GAA (@officialgaa) April 1, 2021
“It is possible that the Dublin players shown training in the photos were there under pressure from the Dublin management team,” Mr Dillon said.
“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,” he added.
Mr Dillon’s calls were echoed by the Minister for Sport, Jack Chambers, who said he wants to see the GAA follow-up on their commitment to investigate the matter fully.
The Minister said he had been surprised and “extremely disappointed” at “such an error of judgement” when the public health protocols about sport were clear.
The Dublin team, along with other senior teams around the country, were role models and their actions were a source of great frustration, he said, as they undermined the public health message.
Once the GAA has established the facts then they needed to set an example, that such behaviour was unacceptable and that everyone needed to be compliant with public health measures, he added.
The story has garnered a range of reactions online, with some condemn the actions of the group, while others criticised ongoing restrictions on outdoor activities.