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Laois TD calls for attendances in MW Hire O’Moore Park to be increased

A section of crowd in O'Moore Park - Photo: Paul Dargan

Laois TD Brian Stanley has called on the government to increase the number of spectators that can attend games in line with the overall capacity of the stadium.

At present, a maximum of 200 people can attend games in MW Hire O’Moore Park this weekend – less than 1% of the total capacity which is 22,000.

According to the Sinn Fein TD, if that was brought up to 4%, you could have 1,000 people at the game while leaving ample room for social distancing.

He says the approach makes no sense when you consider that 50 or 100 people are allowed to gather indoors – half of what is permitted outdoors where the risk of spreading Covid-19 is reduced.

He said: “I understand that we have to reduce the risk and that it is a balancing act but the rules set out that 100 may attend matches outside Dublin and in a stadium of over 5,000 capacity, up to 200 can attend.

“That is less than 1% capacity, in stadiums over 25,000. That is one person seated where there is capacity for 100. At the same time, we allow 50 to 100 people for indoor gatherings.

“There are stadiums such as O’Moore Park in Portlaoise and O’Connor Park in Tullamore which have capacity of over 25,000.

“The problem relates to before and after matches, with people congregating and getting people through turnstiles. However, some stadiums have several turnstiles and several ways in and out. I ask that this be revisited, as well as for grounds with smaller capacity.

“The reason I raised this with the Taoiseach is that we should be able to increase attendances safely at open air events to 3-4 % as this would allow for closer to 1000 to attend games. This would be 1 person to every 25-30 seats.

“On the issue of getting people in and out of venues with social distances, Scotland have put in place measures where spectators leave the stands in short intervals and maximise the number of exit points.

“We need more creative solutions to allow supporters to attend games safely and protect public health.”

Separately, Mr Stanley the practice of ‘dual pricing’ in the motor and home insurance industry.

He said: “The report carried out by the Central Bank confirms what Sinn Fein has been outlining regarding the practice of “Dual Pricing’’ for motor and home insurance.

“I have previously raised this practice in the Dáil and my party colleague Pearse Doherty demanded in 2019 that the Central Bank carry out a probe of the insurance industry. We produced evidence of this malpractice last year and I am glad that the Central Bank has investigated it.

“Dual Pricing’’ is a practice where insurance companies charge loyal and long time customers higher premiums than others, as they know they are less likely to shop around.

“The differential in pricing can be up to €700 for car insurance. Companies study computer data and customers records to calculate the levels of loyalty a customer may have. Companies refer to it internally as a loyalty premium.

“The Central Banks initial report has now found that the majority of Irish insurance companies are involved in this unfair and immoral practice.

“Unfortunately, those most impacted by this are those on lower incomes and those who pay their insurance premiums on a monthly instalment.

“The Central Bank has written to the CEO’s of insurance companies and want to examine documentation of thousands of premiums.

“Now that we know what is happening, action is required to stamp it out. Sinn Fein have drafted legislation to outlaw this exploitation of loyal customers.

“The Government want to await further examination of the practice of the Central Bank, but this could take a year or more.

“It has gone on long enough and those on lower income are the ones penalised the most. It is time to put a ban on this practice by the insurance companies.’’

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