No charge to HSE for use of sporting grounds for coronavirus testing

Croke Park has been used for Covid testing since March 15th.

The GAA offered Croke Park and other GAA grounds to the HSE for use as Covid-19 test centres at no cost.

This is despite the organisation facing up to €60 million in lost revenue this year due to the pandemic.

The HSE set up its first drive-thru test centre at Croke Park in early March as the numbers of Covid-19 cases rose rapidly.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the HSE confirmed the use of GAA grounds by way of a gentleman’s agreement with the GAA at virtually no cost to the HSE.

The HSE states that the projected capital spend on its 49 Covid-19 test centres is €2.2 million.

The Croke Park drive-thru centre commenced operating in the week starting March 15th while a walk-in test centre commenced on March 29th, receiving a total of 17,195 test appointments up to June 17th.

The GAA has also provided the HSE with use of the Laois GAA centre of excellence; the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick; Mick Neville Park in Rathkeale and Semple Stadium in Thurles.

Other GAA grounds made available at no cost to the HSE include Fresher Field GAA Grounds at Dungarvan, Co Waterford; Moyle Rovers grounds in Clonmel; Nowlan Park grounds in Kilkenny; Tinnyland GAA in Co Carlow; Pairc Ui Chaoimh in Cork and Dunmanway GAA.

The FOI response also discloses the IRFU-FAI owned Aviva Stadium was offered for use free of charge to the HSE.

The agreement to use the Aviva runs to the end of the year with an option to then renew monthly.