Belfast Telegraph

Arlene Foster meets Fermanagh GAA ahead of Ulster football final

DUP leader Arlene Foster has met with management of Fermanagh GAA ahead of the county's showdown with Donegal next weekend.

The two counties will meet in the final of the Ulster Senior Football Championship in Clones, Co Monaghan on June 24.

There has been speculation Mrs Foster will attend the final since after tweeting her congratulations to the team for their victory over Monaghan in the semi-final earlier this month.

After the match the DUP leader told the Press Association she had not been formally invited.

On Saturday she first met with the players, before being presented with a GAA jersey by Phil Flanagan, vice chairman of Fermanagh GAA County Board; Rory Gallagher, the manager of the senior team; and Tom Boyle, secretary of Fermanagh GAA County Board.

The meeting took place at Lough Erne Resort Hotel where team training was taking place.

Writing on social media after meeting the DUP leader said: "Pleased to wish my neighbours in @FermanaghGAA all the best for the Ulster Final. I might not have had many tips for them - but a lovely welcome from the team and management . . . It’s Fermanagh’s year."

Speaking to Irish broadcaster RTE, Mrs Foster said it was important to reach out the hand of friendship and "that's what I am trying to do".

Vice chairman of Fermanagh GAA County Board Phil Flanagan was previously a Sinn Fein MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone between 2011 and 2016.

Writing on Twitter, he said the meeting was an "important step in reconciliation".

In recent years the GAA has had a mixed relationship with the DUP.

In 2008 there was a furore after the then Sports Minister Gregory Campbell referred to Tyrone and Kerry as being in "different counties" and the All Ireland final between the two teams should be considered an international event.

In 2012, then Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson attended his first GAA football match alongside former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

In 2013 during a gala event at Queen's University he praised the organisation for its contribution to peace building in Northern Ireland.

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