IRFU seeks ‘urgent meeting’ with Harris over call to postpone Six Nations match

By Aine McMahon, PA

The IRFU is seeking an urgent meeting over calls by the Health Minister to postpone the Ireland-Italy six nations match.

The Department of Health’s National Public Health Emergency Team recommended the match should be  postponed at a meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

In a statement, the IRFU said: “The IRFU is seeking an urgent meeting with minister Harris as to the specific reasoning behind calling for the cancellation of the Ireland v Italy Six Nations fixture in the context of the Government’s overall travel policy to and from Italy and other affected countries.

“Until such time as the IRFU has had contact with the minister and gets an understanding of the Government’s strategic policy on travel to and from Ireland and the cancellation of mass gatherings, it is not in a position to comment further.”

The Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and Italy should not take place due to the risk posed by Covid-19, the Health Minister has said.

Health Minister Simon Harris told RTE news: “The very clear view of the public health emergency team was that this game should not go ahead and that it would constitute a significant risk, because a very large number of people will be travelling from what is now an affected region.

“So my department will be contacting the IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union) in relation to this.

“I know (it will) cause a great disappointment to many, but it is important to make decisions in relation to public health above and beyond all other considerations.”

Simon Harris (Niall Carson/PA)

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs has said a number of Irish citizens staying near a hotel in Tenerife at the centre of a Covid-19 outbreak have been in contact.

Hundreds of people have been confined to their rooms at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace, a popular destination for Irish holidaymakers.

The department said it is giving consular assistance to a number of Irish citizens in the area.

It said the Irish embassy in Madrid is closely monitoring the situation and is in touch with local health and tourist authorities.

(PA Graphics)

The department said anyone with specific concerns regarding Irish people in the area can contact the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin.

On Tuesday morning, Tanaiste Simon Coveney said coronavirus and the ongoing Brexit negotiations add further urgency to forming a government in Ireland.