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The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, TD, together with Brendan Griffin, TD, the Minister of State with responsibility for Sport, today (23 May 2019) welcomed the cancellation of a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) event that had been planned for Carrickmacross in Monaghan this coming Saturday evening (25 May).


The ministers thanked the various bodies whose assistance was necessary in bringing about the cancellation including, An Garda Siochána, Monaghan County Council, the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council, the Irish Red Cross, and the HSE.  They particularly thanked Treacy’s Hotel in Carrickmacross who cancelled the event once the seriousness of the situation was understood. 


The ministers also issued a strong reminder to promoters of MMA events of their obligation to ensure all necessary safety precautions are taken and that essential appropriate medical services are provided to protect the participants’ safety and wellbeing.


Commenting on the now cancelled event (Battle Arena 56), which was scheduled to take place on Saturday the 25th of May, Minister Ross said that “it was brought to my attention by the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC), which is the Statutory Regulator for providers of pre-hospital emergency care in Ireland, that the emergency medical services at the Battle Arena 56 on the 25 May would have fallen far short of the recommendations of the Dublin Coroner in the inquest following the death of Joao Carvalho, and involve people who have not been not licensed in this jurisdiction.


“One can only react with dismay that any organiser of such an event would take such an approach with the health and safety of its participants. It is frankly unimaginable that any event promoter in this country is unaware of their obligations to ensure that any event of this nature does not expose the participants to an unacceptable level of risk and injury. 


“To be fair, there are some MMA event promoters who have ensured their events are as safe as possible and have ensured that their events abide by the recommendations of the Dublin Coroner in the inquest following the death of Joao Carvalho.  I would urge all promoters to follow that example and fully implement the expected minimum safety standards for those participating and they should give due consideration to cancelling it if they cannot implement these basic precautions in full.


Minister Griffin added:


The PHECC indicated that the planned provision of pre-hospital emergency care services at the 25 May event diverged from the recommendations of the Inquest made following the tragic death of Joao Carvalho in April 2016. The Battle Arena 56 event was not being organised by the established MMA community in Ireland and did not adhere to the safety standards which have been applied at every MMA event which has been hosted in the State since the death of Mr Carvalho.  I was frankly appalled that this so-called Battle Arena 56 event would not adhere to the Inquest Recommendations.  Had it proceeded, that event would have posed an unacceptable risk to participant safety.”


A number of recommendations were made with the purpose of reducing the risk of death or serious injury at extreme combat sports events following the Dublin Coroner’s Court inquest in February 2018 into the death of Mr Joao Carvalho in which returned a verdict of death by misadventure.


Minister Ross said “The tragic death of Joao Carvalho was a stark reminder to all that extreme combat sports come with an element of risk to the participants that can never be taken for granted. The inquest into Mr Carvalho’s death led to a number of recommendations from the jury which were designed to ensure vital minimum safety precautions are taken for those competing in such events”.


Since the inquest into the death of Mr Carvalho, MMA community leaders have publicly affirmed their commitment to ensuring that all necessary precautions are taken, including appropriately qualified paramedics being in attendance, ambulance services being present, intubation facilities being available and other relevant measures, including swift access to neurosurgery services.


The owners of venues hosting extreme combat sport events, event promoters and their insurance service providers are encouraged to make themselves fully aware of the depth of their responsibility for participants’ safety and liability should an event lead to a serious injury or fatality.


MMA leaders have repeatedly indicated that they will continue to adhere to the highest safety standards including: a database of participants’ medical status; MMA events using only participants registered on such a database; acceptance of and adherence to medically supervised suspensions; verifiable processes for taking medical examinations and confirming results. Such examinations would be appropriate to the level of risk involved in an event (e.g. periodic medical examinations, periodic blood tests, pre-event and post-event medical examinations, and periodic brain scans).