Taoiseach Micheál Martin has told Off The Ball that he wants to see spectators back in Irish stadia by July.
Martin joined Joe Molloy on Tuesday evening and confirmed that the government has earmarked certain 'test' events to host spectators.
"We would hope to do it this summer. We are going to trial, certainly, a number of events. I know Jack Chambers pulled together a group from the IRFU, the FAI and GAA, a working group by Martin Murphy.
"They drew up extensive protocols back in October, then the third wave came. We've had Professor Mark Ferguson's report on antigen testing, we have the vaccinations. We will be trialling some events; we're probably looking towards July and Government is looking towards that end.
“So we will be trialling some events. I think you’re probably looking at July and government is working up plans now and over the next number of weeks towards that end and also learning lessons from what’s happened in the UK and what’s happening in other jurisdictions to see how we can get fans back in in a safe way.”
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Martin spoke of the UK example with regard to what can be achieved in Ireland.
“I noticed in the UK they’ve done both vaccinated and non-vaccinated people coming in segregating them.
“There are issues around that too in terms of people’s entitlement and allowances and so on. But initially, we’d have to trial it, get that right and then hopefully be in a position to evolve in terms of fans being able to turn up and spectators turning up at different fixtures and sporting events.”
Martin reiterated that NPHET has been the driving force in making sure indoor sports are someway behind outdoor.
“We’ve got to keep control of this, we don’t want to ever again to go back to Christmas.
“We are making great progress on this because of the vaccination, combined with the restrictions we’ve brought in.
“So I think the next stage, logically, once we have the outdoor situation more or less sorted, we move then on concentrating how we bring indoor sports back”.
Martin referenced NPHET again with regard to caution in any return.
“The public health advice has been: May and June, let’s keep the control on the numbers, which we have [done so far]. There’s real concern about the B117 variant in terms of its transmissibility and how the numbers could go wrong again as we’ve seen in other countries.
“Get the vaccination to certain key levels and then we’re much more confident about doing these things. That’s basically the thinking. Also working with sporting organisations.
“There are draft guidelines there. All the major associations have put a lot of work into it.”