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

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.

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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