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Minister Catherine Martin hope...
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Minister Catherine Martin hopes to trial fans' return by next month

Catherine Martin has fuelled hopes that this year's All Ireland Championships could play out with some fans present. 

The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media told Newstalk's Hard Shoulder she wants to bring forward trials for both indoor and outdoor events.

Earlier this month, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin told Off The Ball he would like to see stadiums welcome back fans in July.

But Minister Martin said on Monday evening she's "keen" for test events to start as early as June.

"I'm keen to conduct a number of these events across music, culture, entertainment [and] sport in both large and small-scale venues. Indoor and outdoor," the Minister told Kieran Cuddihy.

"Not only in Dublin, but outside the capital city as well. The pilot events will be key to that re-opening so I'm keen to get them done as soon as possible."

She added, "I know July was said at one stage, but I would be keen - if possible - to turn this around in June because I'm anxious from my engagement with the stakeholders - they need this as soon as possible, as soon as it's safe to do so.

"I as Minister, I'm aiming to get some of these pilot events done by June."

In April, Leinster Rugby submitted plans to the government to run their own pilot events at the RDS limited to 2,000 spectators who would be subject to antigen testing upon entry.

However, the Guinness PRO14 champions had that proposal turned down by the government.

"We weren't in a position to do it, at that time," Minister Martin said, "We have the Return To Sport report that Minister Chambers has been working on as well, and that was done by the FAI, the IRFU and the GAA.

"That's the report that is with the Department of Health, and we're just fine-tuning that now taking into account the vaccinations."

Meetings have taken place with Festival Republic who oversaw the recent Sefton Park gigs, according to the Minister.

5,000 people acted as guinea pigs for the UK government's Event Research Programme. They were required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result, with a further PCR test needed upon entry. Attendees partied without masks or social distancing.

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