Northern Ireland news

GAA 'would be delighted to attend Belfast Pride if invited', Antrim boss says

The GAA is taking part for the first time in the Dublin Pride festival
Brendan Hughes

THE GAA would be "delighted" to attend Belfast's LGBT pride parade "if invited", the Antrim county chair has said.

Ciarán McCavana was speaking ahead of the association taking part for the first time in Saturday's Dublin Pride march.

Belfast Pride said it offers an "ongoing, open invitation to all who support the aims of Pride" and the GAA "should consider themselves invited".

Last week the GAA said there were no plans to participate in Belfast Pride, which is being held in early August.

It said taking part in Dublin Pride was endorsed following a request by some GAA members.

"The GAA has received no other approaches for participation in any other parades and will review our involvement in the Dublin event on its completion," it added.

SDLP councillor and LGBT campaigner Séamas de Faoite has contacted the GAA and other sports bodies to encourage them to take part in Belfast Pride this year.

He said their participation would "show their support and appreciation for LGBT+ players, coaches, volunteers, staff and supporters".

Antrim GAA chair Ciarán McCavana, SDLP councillor Séamas de Faoite and Belfast Pride chair Seán Ó Néill

Mr McCavana welcomed the GAA officially taking part in Dublin Pride and he was "sure they will be delighted to formally attend" Belfast Pride if invited.

"In the past while attending Belfast Pride I have seen many a fellow Gael at this great event," he said, and referred to Belfast mayor and GAA member John Finucane being due to take part in August's parade.

Mr McCavana said the GAA is a "forward-thinking, voluntary, inclusive, community-based organisation" and as such "we would be delighted to attend if invited".

Seán Ó Néill, chair of Belfast Pride, said: "Belfast Pride offers an ongoing, open invitation to all who support the aims of Pride to take part in the festival, and the GAA and any other groups that support equality and inclusion should consider themselves invited."

He said the GAA taking part in Belfast Pride "would show that LGBT+ people in the Ulster counties belong and are welcome in the GAA".

"We look forward to continuing this conversation," he added.

Ulster Rugby has no plans to take part in Belfast Pride, with a spokesman saying they have "not received any formal invitation" to the best of their knowledge.

The Irish Football Association said it first took part in the Belfast Pride parade in 2017 and "will be looking to play a full part in 2019".

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