Belfast Telegraph

Some may be uncomfortable but I am leader of party that promotes a shared society: DUP's Foster applauded at GAA Ulster final

But Donegal proved too much for Fermanagh

DUP Leader Arlene Foster at the Ulster final between Fermanagh and Donegal in Clones, Co Monaghan, Ireland. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire
DUP Leader Arlene Foster at the Ulster final between Fermanagh and Donegal in Clones, Co Monaghan, Ireland. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire
DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
DUP Leader Arlene Foster (left) walks past Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O'Neill (centre) at the Ulster final between Fermanagh and Donegal in Clones, Co Monaghan, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 24, 2018. Mrs Foster's attendance at a game synonymous with the nationalist tradition marks another symbolic milestone in cross-community engagement in the region. See PA story ULSTER Final. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
DUP Leader Arlene Foster at the Ulster final between Fermanagh and Donegal in Clones, Co Monaghan, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 24, 2018. Mrs Foster's attendance at a game synonymous with the nationalist tradition marks another symbolic milestone in cross-community engagement in the region. See PA story ULSTER Final. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
DUP Leader Arlene Foster and Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach Joe McHugh (right) at the Ulster final between Fermanagh and Donegal in Clones, Co Monaghan, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 24, 2018. Mrs Foster's attendance at a game synonymous with the nationalist tradition marks another symbolic milestone in cross-community engagement in the region. See PA story ULSTER Final. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
DUP Leader Arlene Foster at the Ulster final between Fermanagh and Donegal in Clones, Co Monaghan, Ireland. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire
DUP Leader Arlene Foster at the Ulster final between Fermanagh and Donegal in Clones, Co Monaghan, Ireland. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire
DUP Leader Arlene Foster at the Ulster final between Fermanagh and Donegal in Clones, Co Monaghan, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 24, 2018. Mrs Foster's attendance at a game synonymous with the nationalist tradition marks another symbolic milestone in cross-community engagement in the region. See PA story ULSTER Final. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
DUP Leader Arlene Foster and Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach Joe McHugh (right) at the Ulster final between Fermanagh and Donegal in Clones, Co Monaghan, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 24, 2018. Mrs Foster's attendance at a game synonymous with the nationalist tradition marks another symbolic milestone in cross-community engagement in the region. See PA story ULSTER Final. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
DUP Leader Arlene Foster (centre) at the Ulster final between Fermanagh and Donegal in Clones, Co Monaghan, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 24, 2018. Mrs Foster's attendance at a game synonymous with the nationalist tradition marks another symbolic milestone in cross-community engagement in the region. See PA story ULSTER Final. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
DUP Leader Arlene Foster and Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach Joe McHugh (right) at the Ulster final between Fermanagh and Donegal in Clones, Co Monaghan, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 24, 2018. Mrs Foster's attendance at a game synonymous with the nationalist tradition marks another symbolic milestone in cross-community engagement in the region. See PA story ULSTER Final. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
DUP Leader Arlene Foster and Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach Joe McHugh (right) at the Ulster final between Fermanagh and Donegal in Clones, Co Monaghan, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 24, 2018. Mrs Foster's attendance at a game synonymous with the nationalist tradition marks another symbolic milestone in cross-community engagement in the region. See PA story ULSTER Final. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
DUP Leader Arlene Foster at the Ulster final between Fermanagh and Donegal in Clones, Co Monaghan, Ireland. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire
DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
DUP leader Arlene Foster at the Ulster Final. Pic: INPHO/James Crombie
DUP leader Arlene Foster with members of Fermanagh GAA Phil Flanagan, Rory Gallagher and Tom Boyle
GAA guest of honour First Minister Rt. Hon. Peter Robinson MLA and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP MLA pictured at the Power NI Dr McKenna Cup Final match between Derry and Tyrone at Athletic Grounds, Armagh.
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

Arlene Foster made history in becoming the first DUP leader to attend the showpiece Ulster Championship GAA final between her home county Fermanagh and Donegal.

The DUP leader was applauded and cheered by fans as she took her seat in St Tiernach's Park in Clones. There were cheers of "come on Arlene" around the Co Monaghan ground.

She was accompanied by South Belfast MLA Christopher Stalford at the game and sat a row in front of Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill. The two leaders shook hands.

Mrs Foster stood for the playing of the Irish national anthem.

As the Fermanagh native was welcomed by Ireland's culture minister Heather Humphreys Mrs Foster said: "All we need now is a Fermanagh win."

In the end though Donegal proved too stong for the Erne men winning 2-18 to 0-12.

Arlene Foster thanked everyone for giving her a warm welcome at the game.

Ahead of the throw-in, she added: "I do realise that there might be some people who may be uncomfortable, with me being here today on Sunday but let me say this: I am a leader of a political party that promotes a shared society in Northern Ireland and to do that you have to take steps."

Michelle O'Neill welcomed Mrs Foster's attendance at the game.

"GAA is much more than a sporting organisation," she tweeted.

"I very much welcome the attendance of Arlene Foster who I have no doubt will be impressed with the GAA family. We all have our part to play in building an inclusive society for all."

Previously former DUP leader Peter Robinson attended a game with Martin McGuinness for a 2012 Dr McKenna Cup final.

Mrs Foster's attendance comes ahead of her attendance at a LGBT event in Stormont and after she met members of the Northern Ireland Muslim community earlier this month.

Fermanagh fans before the match in Clones. Pic: INPHO/Tommy Dickson
Fermanagh fans before the match in Clones. Pic: INPHO/Tommy Dickson
Ulster GAA Senior Football Championship Final, St. Tiernach's Park, Clones, Co. Donegal's Michael Murphy lifts the cup. Pic ©INPHO/James Crombie
Ulster GAA Senior Football Championship Final, St. Tiernach's Park, Clones, Co. Monaghan 24/6/2018 Fermanagh vs Donegal Fermanagh's James McFadden and Barry Mulroe block Ciaran Thompson of Donegal Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
Ulster GAA Senior Football Championship Final, St. Tiernach's Park, Clones, Co. Monaghan 24/6/2018 Fermanagh vs Donegal A lose dog on the field Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
Donegal's Michael Murphy lifts the cup. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
Ulster GAA Senior Football Championship Final, St. Tiernach's Park, Clones, Co. Monaghan 24/6/2018 Fermanagh vs Donegal Donegal's Ryan McHugh celebrates scoring a goal with Patrick McBrearty Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
Ulster GAA Senior Football Championship Final, St. Tiernach's Park, Clones, Co. Monaghan 24/6/2018 Fermanagh vs Donegal Fermanagh's goalkeeper Patrick Cadden dejected after Ryan McHugh of Donegal scored his sides second goal Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
Ulster GAA Senior Football Championship Final, St. Tiernach's Park, Clones, Co. Monaghan 24/6/2018 Fermanagh vs Donegal Donegal fans Nicole McHugh, Annie Keeney and Irene Boyle Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson
Ulster GAA Senior Football Championship Final, St. Tiernach's Park, Clones, Co. Monaghan 24/6/2018 Fermanagh vs Donegal Fans before the match in Clones Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson
Ulster GAA Senior Football Championship Final, St. Tiernach's Park, Clones, Co. Monaghan 24/6/2018 Fermanagh vs Donegal Fans before the match in Clones Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson
Primary 1 teachers and pupils at Holy Trinity Primary School in Enniskillen are ready for Fermanagh to take on Donegal this weekend in the Ulster Final. All the school wore Fermanagh colours to school day on Friday in support of their home county. Picture: Ronan McGrade
Robbie Fitzpatrick and his sons Matteo and Lorenzo are looking forward to watching Fermanagh take on Donegal in Clones on Sunday. Picture: Ronan McGrade
Shane, Cadhla and Julie Connolly are hoping for a Fermanagh win over Donegal in the Ulster Final. Picture: Ronan McGrade.
Fermanagh supporters are in fine voice at Enniskillen Castle ahead of Sunday's Ulster Final clash with Donegal. Back from left, Aoife and Sean Maguire, Brandon Horan, Julie Connolly, Robbie Fitzpatrick, Patrick Keaney, Gaby Maguire and Dana Keaney. Front, Padraig Lunny, Shane and Cadhla Connolly, Matteo and Lorenzo Fitzpatrick, Erin Keaney and Niamh Maguire. Picture: Ronan McGrade
Bronagh Martin, Derrylin, cheering on Fermanagh in the Ulster Final.
Bronagh Martin, Derrylin, a big Fermanagh Fan.
Cheering on Fermanagh on Sunday are from left, Agnes Moffitt, Margaret Hanna, Alice Howel and Albert Nixon.
Pauleen and Jodie Taggart, Ederney, cheering on Fermanagh on Sunday.
Laura Maguire, cheering on the Fermanagh men in Green on Sunday.
Oisin and Eimear Gunn, Enniskillen, cheering on Fermanagh in the Ulster Final.

Her attendance at the Sunday's game marks another symbolic milestone in cross-community engagement.

In 2008 Edwin Poots became the first political figure from his party to attend a GAA game.

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