Northern Ireland

GAA member speaks at Orange hall in County Antrim

A GAA member is to speak at an Orange Hall in County Antrim on Wednesday in a bid to promote peace-building in the community.

Carnlea Orange Hall in Glarryford is a short distance from Rasharkin which has been the scene of tit-for-tat sectarian attacks in recent weeks.

Mark Conway of Tyrone and Kildress GAA will launch the Rural Enabler Programme (REP) for County Antrim.

REP helps residents challenge conflict-related issues in their area.

It is a European Union funded programme which offers a 12-county approach on the island of Ireland in supporting rural communities.

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) is an all Ireland sporting and community organisation which in Northern Ireland is overwhelmingly supported by Catholics.

Mr Conway said his message was that there was "room for everyone in the north to be doing well".

"My job today is very simple, it is to try and give people a sense from a GAA perspective who we are, what we do, how we do it and most importantly of all why we do it," he said.

"The GAA I have traditionally belonged to is one where we will talk to anyone and maybe more important than that, we will listen to anybody.

"In terms of where we are today, our wonderful manager of the Tyrone team Mickey Harte sometimes uses a quote from Abraham Lincoln who apparently once said 'I don't like that man, I must get to know him'. Maybe that's a wee bit about what this morning is about.

"I know certainly from a GAA perspective, we would be a confident organisation, we are confident of who we are, and what we are about.

"We are not about doing anybody else down, we don't see that for us to do well somebody else must do badly.

"There is room for everyone of us in the north to be doing well."

Grant scheme

Orla Black, Rural Enabler for Antrim, said: "The County Antrim launch will be an opportunity to inform community groups , in particular, as well as other relevant organisations about the Rural Enabler Programme.

"It will also highlight to those attending how we, as enablers, can support community groups on the ground and inform groups about our development grant scheme."

Michael Hughes, Chief Executive Officer of Rural Community Network, said the launch presented opportunities for "rural communities across the county to develop their skills in addressing the very real issues of sectarianism and racism which continue to limit the development of our rural areas".

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