Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Mayor of Waterford City & County Cllr Damien Geoghegan. Photo: Joe Evans

Cllr Geoghegan at the time of golfgate: “People deserve more from its leaders and public representatives”


THE controversy surrounding Mayor of Waterford City and County, Fine Gael’s Cllr Damien Geoghegan, this week, after a player under his watch participated in a match while awaiting the result of a Covid 19 test, is not what the county needs right now as it grapples with rising cases of Covid 19. Within three days this week 33 cases of Covid 19 were recorded, with a significant number of these understood to be in Dungarvan.

Both nationally and locally, political leadership is now more important than ever. Good, clear communication is essential when it comes to living and dealing with a pandemic, and our first citizen’s blatant disregard for such does little to embolden confidence as Waterfordians work hard to keep this virus at bay.

While he might not be Dungarvan GAA Club’s overall Covid Officer, it took Cllr Geoghegan until Thursday to clarify that he indeed held a significant role of responsibility as the County Intermediate Team’s Covid Supervisor. In fact, the GAA’s own guidelines clearly state exactly what that role entails. A health declaration form must be completed by each player before every training session, reconfirming that their health status “has not changed”. This process was implemented by the GAA in June.

According to the GAA Covid Supervisor Role overview, all Covid supervisors must complete the Gaelic Games Return to training module on the GAA eLearning website and fill out a health questionnaire before returning to training.

As well as ensuring “each participant declares their health status hasn’t changed prior to each time they participate in training”, the supervisor must “preclude team members from playing if they display any symptoms of Covid-19”.

In this case the player had been tested for Covid 19 and was awaiting that result when he was permitted to play in the County Intermediate Final. Cllr Geoghegan said he wasn’t aware the player had been tested. It is understood the player received his positive result the day after the match.

Cllr Geoghegan’s responses to Waterford News & Star reporter Jade Wilson merely serve to reinforce that five days after the match in question, Cllr Geoghegan had still either not bothered to check his specific responsibilities, or deemed it not in the public interest to admit his shortcomings on the matter. Either way, it is entirely unacceptable on the one hand to be critical of others in terms of Covid 19 compliance – and then act according to a completely different rulebook for yourself.

Mayor Geoghegan was not short of words in August when his party colleague Senator John Cummins – who subsequently lost the party whip – attended the controversial ‘golfgate’ dinner in Clifden, Co Galway. “People deserve more from its leaders and public representatives,” Cllr Geoghegan said at the time. “What occurred was grossly irresponsible and absolutely unacceptable. It cannot be justified or stood over in any way.”

Indeed, Mayor Geoghegan, we couldn’t say it better.

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