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DUP Leader Arlene Foster walks past Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O'Neill at the Ulster final. PA Wire/PA Images
Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster praised for being first DUP leader to attend Ulster football final

Foster was also praised for standing up during the Irish national anthem.

DUP LEADER ARLENE Foster has received widespread praise for attending the Ulster GAA football final in Co Monaghan yesterday.

She attended the Fermanagh vs Donegal clash in what was the first appearance by a DUP leader to the Ulster final.

This month Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was praised for attending the Orange Order Museum – making him the first Taoiseach to visit the museum while still in office.

Speaking ahead of the match, Foster told journalists who had gathered for the historic appearance:

“Of course this isn’t my first time at the Clones, I grew up not so very far away from here. But it is my first time at St Tiernach’s Park and I want to say a big thank you to the Ulster Council of the GAA for the very warm welcome I’ve received.

I do realise that there are some people who may be uncomfortable with me being here today on a Sunday but let me say this: I am the leader of a political party that wants to have a shared society in Northern Ireland. To do that we have to take steps forward.
To do that we also have to build a respect and a tolerance and that’s what I want to do. I hope that others take the chance to step forward as well, to understand and appreciate and tolerate another culture perhaps that that isn’t theirs.

Many praised the leader for her appearance at the match, including the Sinn Féin leader in the North Michelle O’Neill.

“Great welcome from Ulster GAA in Clones today. GAA is much more than a sporting organisation and I very much welcome the attendance of Arlene Foster who I have no doubt will be impressed with the GAA family. We all have our part to play in building an inclusive society for all,” she said.

“Good to see Arlene Foster at today’s Ulster Final and standing respectfully for Amhrán na bhFiann,” Sinn Féin MP for South Down Chris Hazzard said.

Foster also stood up during the Irish national anthem.

The DUP leader also announced that she would attend an LGBT event this week. Foster said that she would be at the PinkNews’s summer reception, and wanted the LGBT community to know that she does “value their contribution to Northern Ireland”.

The DUP has been widely criticised for opposing same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

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