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'No inquiry' Taoiseach Micheal Martin defends attendance at indoor Cork boxing event

Gardaí said they are not investigating the event.

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Micheal Martin

Micheal Martin

Micheal Martin

MICHEÁL Martin has defended taking part in an event at a Cork boxing club last December when public health restrictions prohibited indoor gatherings.

The Taoiseach’s spokesman said that the event at Blackpool’s Glen Boxing Club last December 12 “was work, and not a personal event”.

Mr Martin presented the Paddy Martin Cup, named after his father, who was a champion boxer, to Irish international boxer and Garda Christina Desmond at the event, which was attended by at least 12 people.

The State was in Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions at the time, meaning indoor gatherings were prohibited. Gardaí said they are not investigating the event.

Mick O’Brien, chair of the Cork County Boxing Board, defended the event. “The invitation was given, permission was given for the event to go ahead,” he said. “As far as I know, the permission was granted to the Cork Ex-Boxers Association and a date was given through the Taoiseach’s office and conveyed through Micheál Martin’s constituency office in Cork.”

Mr O’Brien said they were asked to provide the names of people attending the function, their contact numbers, their role within the association. He said on the day masks were available for everybody and social distancing was adhered to during the 45-minute event.

Mr O’Brien claimed he was not aware of the rules on indoor gatherings at the time but said that “permission” had been given from the Taoiseach’s office.

The event included representatives from the organisers, the Cork Ex-Boxers Association, the Cork County Boxing Board, and the Cork Boxing Fraternity.

Mr Martin’s spokesman said: ‘The Taoiseach visited a community boxing club at the invite of the Cork County Boxing Board, almost four months ago, on December 12, 2020.

“Ahead of the meeting, as standard, guidance was provided to the club, including limiting the number of attendees, social distancing, and wearing of masks when not speaking or in photos.

"This was work, and not a personal event.” Mr Martin attended three official engagements in Cork that day including the launch of the Rotary Remembrance Tree, and visits to Sophia Social Housing Project and Cork City FC.

A Cork Echo report on December 14 said the boxing event lasted 90 minutes and lists the names of at least 10 individuals who attended which would have been in addition to Mr Martin, his PA and his security detail. Mr O’Brien said the Taoiseach’s security detail remained outside.

The event was highlighted by a new website Ontheditch.com which included a video of Mr Martin and Ms Desmond holding the cup while attempting to social distance.

In the video, Mr Martin tells Ms Desmond she can remove her mask for the picture.

The website reported that a detailed complaint had been made to gardaí regarding the event. The Garda Press Office said last night: “The Taoiseach visited a community boxing club in a work capacity on 12th December, 2020. An Garda Síochána are not conducting an investigation into this matter.”

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