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Monaghan have moved to suspend manager Seamus McEnaney for 12 weeks after it emerged overnight that the county had contravened Covid-19 regulations by holding a training session.
The Irish Independent revealed on Thursday morning that video footage and images of the session had come to light and had been passed on to the newspaper and the Government and from there to the Gardaí and Department of Health.
Although the event is believed to have pre-dated last week’s similar breach by the Dublin footballers, it is a most unwelcome development for the GAA, who this afternoon will launch a structure for the coming intercounty season.
Monaghan’s action was taken straight from the Dublin playbook, which saw the county immediately suspend manager Dessie Farrell for 12 weeks. Croke Park appeared to have accepted Dublin’s intervention but that remains to be seen.
The Management Committee appointed a sub-committee to investigate the Dublin situation and that was due to report today (Thursday). Regardless of what the sub-committee recommended, Management still have to sign off on it and Thursday’s revelations might affect reactions.
Whereas the feeling up until now was that the earlier breaches of these directives in Cork and Down had set some sort of a benchmark for penalties – 12 weeks for Cork manager Ronan McCarthy and eight weeks for Down’s Paddy Tally – there may now be a need for enhanced deterrents.
McCarthy has yet to accept his suspension which goes before the GAA’s independent arbitration body the Disputes Resolution Authority within the next few days.
The full statement read: “Monaghan GAA acknowledge that following an investigation this morning, there was a breach of the Covid-19 regulations and guidelines.
“Resulting from an internal investigation, our senior team manager, Seamus McEnaney, has admitted that this was a serious error of judgement and apologies unreservedly for the indiscretion. The county management committee have suspended the Monaghan GAA senior football manager, Seamus McEnaney for 12 weeks with immediate effect and will fully cooperate and comply with any Croke Park investigation.”
The GAA’s Management Committee will presumably appoint another sub-committee – a third since the start of the year – to investigate the latest breach of both association rules and public health directives.
Indications are that this latest embarrassment will not necessarily affect the planned return to intercounty training, authorised by Government for April 19th but that date cannot come around quickly enough for Croke Park.
Indications are that this latest embarrassment will not necessarily affect the planned return to intercounty training, authorised by Government for April 19th. Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers did, however, express his unhappiness with developments.
“The latest reports will cause great anger to all those who have been adhering to the rules and have made great sacrifices. Any breach of the public health rules like this is unacceptable. This undermines the public health messaging when our GAA stars and sports teams should be supporting them and leading by example as role models.
“My officials from the Department of Sport have been in touch with the GAA to re-emphasise that all breaches undermine the broader public health messaging. The GAA will now be fully investigating this incident to establish the full facts.
“I expect the GAA will also now be directly engaging with all the county boards to seek assurances that counties are fully complying with the public health restrictions.
“Any breach needs to be fully investigated with appropriate sanctions for those who are found to have undermined the public health guidelines.
“The GAA also needs to re-emphasise to all county boards that there must be full compliance with the restrictions between now and the 19th of April when the phased return to sport is due to recommence.”
That date cannot come around quickly enough for Croke Park.
Senior figures in Washington stand behind Belfast Agreement and protocol, McDonald says
Senior figures in United States politics have made it clear that the government of Boris Johnson in the UK will face negative consequences internationally if it attempts to rupture or dispense with the Northern Ireland protocol, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said.
In a presentation at the National Press Club in Washington DC on Thursday she said the protocol was “necessary, operable and going nowhere, despite what Boris Johnson might wish to believe”.
She said she had met with “people of considerable influence” in the US Congress and in the Biden administration on her visit to the US this week and they all stood four square behind the Belfast Agreement and the protocol.
“I heard yesterday on the Hill the clearest possible articulation across the board that any notion of walking away from the protocol would not be acceptable to the United States.”
Asked about a report in the Financial Timed that Washington had delayed lifting tariffs on UK steel and aluminium products amid concerns about threats by the UK to invoke article 16 of the protocol, Ms McDonald said this was a matter for the Biden administration.
However, she said: “There is no doubt where the US stands. If Johnson believes he can walk away from the protocol, he is wrong and there will be consequences for Britain if he chooses that course of action.”
Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie, who was also in Washington DC on Thursday, said if the lifting of tariffs was being delayed due to concerns about the protocol, he would argue at a meeting with the US state department that it had “got it wrong” in its view on what article 16 was about.
“If people say we have to adhere to the protocol and article 16 is part of the protocol then it becomes a legitimate thing you can use.”
“It is not about whether you should or should not use it. It is about how you should use it.
“You should use it in a narrow sense of a particular issue that is causing economic or societal harm in Northern Ireland, for example, medicines .”
“If the medicine issue has not been fixed and is starting to affect the people of Northern Ireland, it would be right to instigate article 16 to focus minds on that issue.”
Ms McDonald also told the press club event that she expected the United States would “be on the right side” on the controversy over British plans for an amnesty in relation to killings during the Troubles.
She said the British government was going to the ultimate point to keep the truth from the people about its war in Ireland.
She said the Johnson government’s plans would mean “in effect no possibility of criminal action, civil actions or even inquests into killings in the past”.
Ms McDonald also forecast that a point was coming over the coming five or 10 years where referenda would be held on the reunification of Ireland. She urged the Irish government to establish a citizen’s assembly to consider preparation for unity.
She also said “there will be need for international support and international intervention to support Ireland as we move to transition from partition to reunification”.
Separately, asked about a recent Sinn Féin golf fundraising event that was held in New York, Ms McDonald said the money that was raised would be spent on campaigning and lobbying in the US.
She described it as a patriotic expression by people in the US who had a deep interest in Ireland and the peace process.
Drop in cancer diagnoses as high as 14 per cent during pandemic, early data shows
The drop in the number of cancers detected during the Covid-19 pandemic could be as high as 14 per cent, preliminary data has suggested.
A report from the National Cancer Registry said it was still too early to provide “definitive answers” on whether pandemic hospital restrictions last year led to a reduction in the number of cancers diagnosed.
The registry’s annual report said an estimated decrease of 14 per cent in detections pointed to the “potential scale” of Covid-19’s impact on other healthcare.
A separate analysis of data on microscopically verified cancers diagnosed last year showed a reduction of between 10 and 13 per cent, the report said.
The drop in confirmed cancer cases, when compared with previous years, could be partly accounted for by “incomplete registration of cases already diagnosed”, it said.
Prof Deirdre Murray, director of the National Cancer Registry, said there were “clear signals that, as expected in Ireland, the number of cancer diagnoses in 2020 will be lower than in previous years”.
The shortfall in cancers being diagnosed would present a “major challenge” in the coming years, with lengthy waiting lists and disruptions to screening services “all too commonplace” already, she said.
Ms Power said it was frightening to think of the people who were living with cancer but did not know it yet. She added that existing cancer patients were “terrified” of having treatments delayed due to the recent rise in Covid-19 cases.
The registry’s report said there were about 44,000 tumours identified each year between 2017 and 2019.
Not counting non-melanoma skin cancer, the most common cancer diagnoses were for breast and prostate cancer, which made up almost a third of invasive cancers found in women and men respectively.
For men this was followed by bowel and lung cancer, and melanoma of the skin. Lung cancer was the second most common cancer for women, followed by colorectal cancer and melanoma of skin.
Nearly a third of deaths in 2018 were attributed to cancer, with lung cancer the leading cause of death from cancer, the report said.
The second, third and fourth most common cancers to die from in men were bowel, prostate and oesophagus cancer. For women breast, bowel and ovarian cancers were the most common fatal cancers.
The report said there were almost 200,000 cancer survivors in Ireland at the end of 2019, with breast cancer patients making up more than a fifth of the total.
The research found cancer rates among men had dropped between 2010 and 2019, with mortality rates decreasing or remaining the same across nearly every type of cancer. Rates of cancer detected among women had increased between 2008 and 2019, with mortality rates for most cancers decreasing.
The report said the five-year survival rate from cancer had increased to 65 per cent for the period 2014 to 2018, compared with 42 per cent two decades previous.
There had been “major improvement” in survival rates for most major cancers, however, the research noted the chances of survival varied significantly depending on the type of cancer.
Prostate, melanoma of the skin and testis cancer had survival rates of more than 90 per cent, followed closely by breast and thyroid cancer, and Hodgkin lymphoma. Pancreas, liver, oesophagus and lung cancers had much lower five-year survival rates on average, the report said.
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