Arlene Foster cheered as she attends her first Ulster GAA final
DUP leader’s appearance at game seen as a milestone in cross-community engagement
DUP Leader Arlene Foster (centre) at the Ulster final between Fermanagh and Donegal in Clones, Co Monaghan, Ireland. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Arlene Foster has become the first leader of the Democratic Unionist Party to attend the Ulster final.
Mrs Foster was applauded and cheered by GAA fans as she arrived in Clones, Co Monaghan, in the Irish Republic to watch Fermanagh play neighbouring county Donegal in the showpiece event.
Mrs Foster’s attendance at a game synonymous with the nationalist tradition marks another symbolic milestone in cross-community engagement in the region.
It comes ahead of another significant step next week when she will attend an LGBT event at Stormont.
The DUP has been much criticised by gay rights activists for its resistance to same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.
As she was welcomed by Ireland’s culture minister Heather Humphreys, Mrs Foster said: “All we need now is a Fermanagh win.”
Moments before the game kicked off Mrs Foster commented on her decision to attend.
“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,” she said.
Mrs Foster was applauded by supporters of both teams as she walked up the steps to take her seat in the main stand ahead of kick off.
She shook hands with Sinn Fein’s Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill, who was sitting just behind her.
Mrs Foster and party colleague Christopher Stalford then stood with the rest of the sell out crowd as the Irish national anthem was played.
Fermanagh lost the tie 0-12 to Donegal’s 2-18.