Tyrone GAA team to get Stormont reception
County Tyrone's All-Ireland Gaelic football champions are to receive an official reception at Stormont to celebrate their victory, it emerged today.
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Culture Minister Gregory Campbell had been criticised for his response to the team's win in September, but today it was confirmed he will host the event marking their achievement.
The Tyrone senior football team and minor team - who both won their respective All-Ireland titles this year - will be guests of honour at a special reception planned for Friday February 6 at 6.30pm.
The teams will be hosted in the Great Hall at Stormont's Parliament Buildings.
News of the plan came in a letter from the minister to Sinn Fein West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff, who said the event would be a fitting tribute.
"I welcome confirmation of the date for the Stormont reception for the Tyrone teams," said Mr McElduff.
He said that in his ten years as an Assembly member, some of the best events at Stormont had been similar receptions held for previous All-Ireland winning Tyrone and Armagh teams.
Mr Campbell was criticised in the immediate aftermath of the Tyrone win for characterising the Croke Park victory as an 'international' match for a Northern Ireland team.
But Mr Campbell defended his remarks, insisting Tyrone and defeated finalists Kerry are "in different countries", and therefore the match was an international occasion.
Since then he has responded to queries over the possible date for a Stormont reception for the team by insisting he was considering the issue.
Today Mr McElduff said he was glad the matter had come to a positive conclusion.
Mr Campbell's letter confirmed the date had been agreed after consultations with the GAA.
Tyrone won the All-Ireland championship after being defeated in the early part of the competition in Ulster, only to re-enter the national-leg of the contest through the so-called 'back door'.
But Mr McElduff said: "Tyrone won the All-Ireland through the back door and was happy to do so.
"But I am delighted that the Sam Maguire and Tommy Markham cups will be coming into Stormont through the front door."
He added: "The scale of the achievement of the Tyrone teams is fantastic and a reception will be good news to all sports fans."