CLAIM: The grounds of the Michael Davitt GAC, in Swatragh, County Londonderry, have been offered as a coronavirus field hospital.
CONCLUSION: ACCURATE WITH CONSIDERATION. The Michael Davitt GAC has responded that while consultations are ongoing, no decision has been made or agreed with any other agency regarding the use of their grounds.
The Irish News claim
On 23 March 2020, the Irish News published an article, “Co Derry GAA club offers ground as coronavirus field hospital”, and quoted a spokesperson from Michael Davitt Gaelic Athletic Club (GAC) in Swatragh: “We would be happy for our premises to be used as a field hospital in the event that its [sic] needed in the impending onslaught from the coronavirus.”
“We have the premises, location and facilities to offer a viable option for a field hospital,” the club spokesperson said.
This claim was repeated in another Irish News article, published on 24 March 2020.
Response from Michael Davitt GAC Swatragh
In a letter (23 March 2020) on the club’s Facebook page, the Michael Davitt GAC Chairman, Cormac McCormack, responded directly to the article, stating that “no contact has yet been made with relevant authorities with regards to any proposals”. The letter says that the Club has not ruled out the potential use of the grounds in such a way, and that a consultation is ongoing with the local community and relevant Health Authorities, to establish how it may support the NHS during the COVID-19 crisis.
The letter concludes with an appeal to club members to adhere only to information coming from official sources, such as official club social media accounts, websites, or quotations from club officials.
According to Cormac McCormack, the Michael Davitt GAC Chairman, the club contacted the Irish News to find contacts within the health service “to explore various different options” for the club to help address the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic. However, no decision has been made about how the club may contribute to efforts to support the NHS during the COVID-19 crisis.
While the statements declare that the club believes that its premises are a viable option and that it would be happy if they were to be used as a field hospital, the letter from McCormack states that the club had not yet consulted with relevant health authorities and local community.
Image source: Michael Davitt GAC Swatragh Facebook Page.