Northern Ireland news

GAA stars to sleep on streets to raise awareness of homelessness

The sleep out by current and former GAA stars aims to raise awareness of homelessness. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire
John Monaghan

A GROUP of current and former GAA stars are to sleep on the streets of Belfast tonight to raise awareness of homelessness.

More than 400 past and present inter-county football, hurling and camogie players are joining the solidarity sleep-out in 13 towns and cities across Ireland and North America.

From 6pm to 11.30pm, players from several Ulster counties will gather in Cornmarket Square in Belfast city centre.

The sleep-out will then move to outside Bedford House in Bedford Street until 6am tomorrow.

Those involved will include former Armagh All-Ireland winners Steven McDonnell and Justin McNulty, Antrim hurler Christy McNaughton and Ross Carr, the former Down senior boss and two-time All-Ireland winner.

It is part of an initiative, entitled 'Gaelic Voices for Change', which aims to "shine a light on important social issues" starting with homelessness.

Supported by the players' bodies, it has already raised more than €120,000 for charities.

In some parts of Ireland, entire squads such as the Carlow women's football team and Laois hurlers will participate tonight.

Eamon Fennell, who was part of Dublin's All-Ireland winning side in 2011, said:

"If we can provide people with some level of support and help them feel more integrated in the community, into a working career or into a sport that offers you so much potential, well then we should support where and when we can."

A range of charities will benefit from the sleep-out, including the Welcome Organisation in Belfast.

Anyone wishing to donate online can do so at www.gaelicvoicesforchange.com.

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