Football

East Belfast GAC commended for outreach work as Ulster GAA reiterate Casement commitment in 2024-2028 strategic plan

Ulster secretary says ‘Games for All’ programme vital to encourage ‘New Irish’ to take up GAA

East Belfast GAA take part in the pride parade. Picture: Mal McCann.
East Belfast GAA take part in the pride parade. Picture: Mal McCann. East Belfast GAA take part in the pride parade. Picture: Mal McCann.

EAST Belfast GAC has been commended as a “benchmark for other clubs to follow” for its community outreach policy in the Ulster GAA Strategic Plan (2024-2028).

The Down club, which was formed in 2020 has faced down sectarianism and is flourishing in an area that previously had little or no exposure to Gaelic Games, was one of 12 clubs listed as examples of “best practice” from across the Ulster counties in many areas of club life.

“In the short period (of their existence) they have become one of the largest and most recognisable clubs in Ulster, fielding adult teams in all codes,” read the report.

“The club reaches out across all communities to attract players, coaches and volunteers, and

are recognised as one of the most diverse GAA clubs.

“The club logo incorporates the word ‘Together’ in English, Irish and Ulster-Scots, as well as

the cross-community symbols of the Red Hand of Ulster, the Shamrock and the Thistle.

“The club has regularly been involved in Ulster GAA cross-community outreach programmes and attend inclusion and diversity workshops. They regularly attend the Belfast Pride parade and have been involved in numerous initiatives promoting cultural diversity and the GAA motto

‘Where We All Belong’.”

Also commended for their achievements are Antrim’s Lamh Dhearg (GAA Green Club), St Peter’s Lurgan (Irish language development), St Patrick’s Donaghmore (GAA for all), Scotstown (club governance), Newry Shamrocks (coaching structures), Belnaleck (volunteer recruitment and development), Burt (integration and one club model), Kildallan (health and wellbeing), Cargin (handball), Carricmacross (rounder) and Glenullin (Scor promotion).

Declan Woods, Brian McAvoy, Ciaran McLaughlin, Jarlath Burns, Michael Geoghegan and Michael McArdle at the launch of the Ulster GAA Strategic Plan 2024-2028
Declan Woods, Brian McAvoy, Ciaran McLaughlin, Jarlath Burns, Michael Geoghegan and Michael McArdle at the launch of the Ulster GAA Strategic Plan 2024-2028

The report also includes a submission from GAA President Jarlath Burns in which he celebrates the success of Ulster club sides in winning the All-Ireland junior (Arva), intermediate (Cullyhanna) and senior (Glen).

“A unique and outstanding achievement and one for which all Gaels in this province can take pride in,” wrote the Silverbridge Harps clubman.

“As I begin my term as Uachtarán CLG, I would like to offer my sincere gratitude for the help and advice I receive from the Ulster Council.”

Meanwhile, Ulster GAA have reiterated their commitment to delivering Casement Park as “a modern GAA stadium in Belfast with a capacity of 34,578″.

The report pledges that Ulster GAA will dedicate sufficient resources and controls to aid the delivery of the project within the required timelines whilst protecting the assets of Ulster GAA.

And engage with the Ulster GAA Audit and Risk Committee and relevant stakeholders to provide updates as necessary to mitigate any potential risks.

Elsewhere, Ulster GAA Secretary Brian McAvoy stressed the need for the integration at all levels within the GAA.

“During the lifetime of this plan we will build on our ‘Games for All Programme’, further develop our cultural and wellbeing initiatives and provide the necessary support and guidance to our volunteers to equip them to perform to the best of their ability,” he wrote.

“We are all impacted by an evolving society. The basic aim of the Association is ‘To strengthen the national identity in a 32-county Ireland’.

“So much has changed since these words were first written. Some 12 per cent of the Irish population is ‘non-Irish’ and this is likely to increase and more and more of these ‘new Irish’ are becoming involved in our games and associated activities. We must see this as an opportunity, not a challenge.”

The Ulster GAA Strategic Plan is available at https://ulster.gaa.ie/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/Ulster-GAA-Strategic-Plan-2024-28-1.pdf