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Tánaiste in Armagh for Sport and Reconciliation Conference

Northern Ireland Peace Process, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, Press Releases, Northern Ireland, 2013

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, T.D., is in Armagh this morning, where, together with the Taoiseach and the First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, he will address a conference on Sport and Reconciliation being organised by the three largest sports bodies in Northern Ireland.

The Conference brings together the Ulster Council of the GAA, the Ulster Branch of the IRFU and the Irish Football Association to discuss the positive role sport can play in improving relations within and between communities in Northern Ireland. Speaking in advance of the Conference, the Tánaiste paid tribute to the organisations involved in sport for reaching out beyond their traditional bases.

“It’s very important that community-based organisations are supported in their efforts at reconciliation. Through our Reconciliation and Anti-Sectarianism Funds, my Department is a strong supporter of organisations working to build better relations within and between the traditions in Northern Ireland and I’ve witnessed some of this good work myself on recent trips to Derry and Belfast. Sporting organisations are amongst the best placed to break down barriers at the local level. The GAA, the IFA and the IRFU reach into every community in Northern Ireland and have enormous potential to change community relations for the better” 

The Sport and Reconciliation Conference coincides with the 17th Plenary meeting of the North South Ministerial Council, also taking place in Armagh, where the Irish Government will meet with their Northern Ireland counterparts, to focus on cooperation aimed at boosting economic growth, improving the delivery of services, and delivering more jobs across the island.

The Tánaiste continues his engagements in Northern Ireland on Saturday when he will address the annual conference of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in Armagh. On Saturday evening, both the Tánaiste and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers will address the Irish Association (http://www.irish-association.org/) in Belfast, on the occasion of its 75th Anniversary.  The Tánaiste will also be present for the Remembrance Day Ceremony at the Cenotaph at Belfast City Hall on Sunday.