The use of technology, changes to the Hurling Championship and the opening up of GAA grounds for a Rugby World Cup bid were among the issues discussed at the GAA Congress in Derry.
Addressing the conference at Ebrington deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said it was “fitting that as Derry GAA celebrates 125 years we are hosting our first GAA Annual Congress.”
He said:”“The GAA connects people not only within our local communities, but across the world and has a presence on all 5 continents. The local GAA community, regardless of whether it is in Stockholm, Sydney or San Francisco, offers a warm welcome and a taste of home to our family and friends, footballers, hurlers and camogs who have had to seek employment far from home.
“Although dedicated to promoting the games of hurling, football, handball, rounders and camogie, the Association also supports activities that enrich the culture of our nation and further gaelic ideals, including the Irish language, Irish music and dance. In February Derry hosted the Scór finals and in August this city will host Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann. This was a historic decision, with the All-Ireland Fleadh coming to the north for the first time. I’m sure this will not only be an historic Fleadh but also the best one ever.”
Speaking about the significant contribution the GAA makes to society the Minister said: “The impact of the GAA extends beyond the aims of promoting gaelic games. It is the cornerstone of the community, strengthening community development, promoting inclusion and cohesion, providing structured support for volunteers at club and county levels and maintaining and expanding its focus on health, well-being and lifestyle.
The GAA generates and fosters pride in the community it both serves and enriches. It is for the unique and invaluable contribution that you make to our community that we as an Executive consider it right to support GAA activities and the development of Casement Park is an example of our support.”
The deputy First Minister concluded: “I thank each and every volunteer for the important role they play in making the GAA what it is. Not just the office bearers but the people who do the vital unseen work in every club. The greatest asset of the GAA is its people and your contribution is greatly appreciated.”