Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Peter Robinson attends GAA match

Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson has attended his first gaelic football match.

In a significant development for community relations in Northern Ireland, he joined deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at a Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) cup final.

Gaelic games are associated with the nationalist community, but his attendance at the Armagh Athletic Grounds follows long-running efforts to build bridges between the GAA and the unionist community.

In 2008 Edwin Poots, a Democratic Unionist minister at the Stormont Assembly, became the first political figure from his party to attend a GAA game.

Ulster GAA president Aogan O'Fearghail welcomed Mr Robinson's attendance at the Power NI McKenna Cup final between counties Derry and Tyrone. He said: "The attendance of the First Minister follows a series of engagements that have taken place involving him and his officials over the past number of years led by our provincial director Danny Murphy."

The Assembly Executive has earmarked more than £100 million to redevelop stadia linked to gaelic games, rugby and football. This includes a major scheme for the GAA's Casement Park ground in the heart of west Belfast.

Mr O'Fearghail added: "Ulster GAA would want to again recognise the significant investment that the Executive under the leadership of both the First and Deputy First Ministers have committed to the Casement Park redevelopment and to many other GAA projects. I thank them for their confidence in and support for Ulster GAA."

He added: "As an Association, we are committed to a shared future for all in Ireland. We outreach to many who have had no traditional involvement with the GAA. The presence of the First Minister at tonight's match is part of that engagement process and something I warmly welcome."

Mr Robinson said: "I have consistently been saying that we have to get away from the 'them and us' politics. We have to be able to show respect for each other's traditions so it's good to be here."

He told UTV: "I'm not sure if I have caught all the finer points of the game, but I'm on the side of the referee on this one!"

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