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A great shot of the whole Dublin team with guest of honour Anto Finnegan at the Dublin Football All Ireland medal presentation!

 Antrim players have signed up for the GAA initiative in support of HOMELESS PEOPLE IN IRELAND

Ulster inter-county GAA players to sleep rough in solidarity with Ireland’s homeless In Belfast
A group of past and present GAA players have thrown their weight and time to highlight and support an All Ireland initiative to highlight the plight of homelessness in Ireland in 2017. Glenavy and Antrtim footballer, Paddy Gallagher is just one of the players who have signed up to this very worthwhile cause and he has welcomed the involvement of the Saffron Gael in highlighting the venture.
In a press release to the Saffron Gael, ‘Gaelic Voices for Change’ lay out their plan for action leading up to the Christmas period. We are a voluntary group of past and present inter-county GAA players who, supported by the GPA and WGPA, have come together to form ‘Gaelic Voices for Change’, a community action initiative that shines a light on important social issues. Our initial focus is on the escalating housing and homeless crisis.
On December 16th, we are planning a solidarity sleep-out in Belfast, joining others happening in Dublin, Galway, Cork, Waterford, Carlow, Naas, Portlaoise (Dec 15), Sligo, and Wexford. Our aim is to generate solidarity, funds, awareness, and action. All funds raised will go to registered charities including the Peter McVerry Trust, the Simon Communities, Focus Ireland, DePaul Ireland, the Capuchin Day Centre, Cope Galway, Thomand House and the Welcome Organisation in Belfast
Both the north and south of Ireland are in the depths of a homelessness crisis: In the north OVER 130,000 people are living without a home of their own. We know that 20,000 people and families asked the housing executive for help dealing with homelessness last year. More than 50 people declare themselves homeless each day. We know that Northern Ireland has a higher rate of homelessness than England, Scotland or Wales. In January-March 2017, there were 1,500 more cases (39.7%) of homelessness reported in N.I compared to same period in the previous year. Almost 12,000 people in the north were accepted as being ‘statutorily homeless’ over the last year. There is also a lack of emergency accommodation.
Players throughout Ulster want to highlight the above issue in Belfast but more than that, they want to make a tangible change, by supplying resources such as sleeping bags and food to those in need.
Players past and present will sleep rough on the 16th December in Belfast City Centre. With players such as Chrissy McKaigue, Jane Adams, Christy McNaughton, Caroline O’Hanlon & Ross Carr all involved, it is hoped their presence will be felt and challenge others to consider this issue in their own community and lend the hand of support at a time of year which makes the plight of homelessness all the more heart breaking.
Amongst the Antrim players who have signed up so far are:
Footballers – Conor Murray / Ryan Murray / Jack Dowling / Domhnall Nugent / Mark Sweeney / Patrick Gallagher
Hurlers – Christy McNaughton / Conor McConville / Ciaran Johnston
Camogs – Jane Adams / Colleen Patterson
We’re sleeping out around Belfast City Centre 6pm – 6am. Starting at Cornmarket for a bit to gather support from Christmas shoppers and people out for the night
We’re coordinating with the Welcome Centre and Simon Community to make sure they keep us right on what they need and what we should do
People can support the Antrim players sleeping out by using the ‘Donate’ tab on Gaelic Voices for Change or through player’s individual pages which will be posted on their Twitter accounts.

Saffron success in Swatragh semi… It was an extremely cold and snowy Sunday on the 10th December when competitors from Antrim, Down, Derry, Fermanagh and Monaghan travelled to Swatragh to take part in their Ulster semi final. From the glens of Antrim to the shores of Lough Neagh, our competitors travelled to South Derry, braving the elements for that special competition that is Scór na nÓg.
The day started off with the Rince Foirne competition with 4 counties represented. St Mary's Aghagallon danced the Cross Reel and not a step was out of place which ensured them a place in the Ulster Final along with Warrenpoint , Co Down. Solo Singing was next and the standard was extremely high . Our very own Meabh McNeill gave a brilliant performance of the lovely Irish song 'Céad slán leis an oileán' . She was absolutely delighted to be one of the 2 singers to make it through to the Ulster final along with a seán nós style singer from County Monaghan. The recitation category is always fun to watch and we saw performances about everything, even one about John Deeres and Massey Fergusons from a young Derry performer. Our own Katie Bonnes shone brightly as always and clinched a spot in the Ulster final with a brilliant performance . This will be Katie's third successive Ulster final! What an achievement for the young gael from Tír na nÓg. Next up was the Ballad Group section . Such high standard from young performers from every county taking part . The girls from Aghagallon sang beautifully and gave great performances of their 2 songs but narrowly missed out on an Ulster final place to a very talented group from Clonduff, County Down and a group from County Derry. After the break, Aghagallon took to the stage with their performance of 'The Leprachaun's Gold' and what a performance they gave. The crowd absolutely loved it and with a fantastic story line, amazing acting and everything from Irish dancing to horse racing , they were sure to shine through. They secured a place in the Ulster final along with Mayobridge, Co Down. The standard in the Ceol Uirlise group was unbelievable and the Antrim competitors were right up there with the best. The young group of musicians from Carey Faughs performed so well and narrowly missed out on an Ulster final place to a County Derry group from Glenuillin and the Fermanagh group from Derrygonnelly. The final competition was Rince Seit where we saw our dancers from Ruairí Óg dance 'The Connemara Set'. The girls were fantastic but it was Derry and Down who secured their Ulster final places.
I am so delighted that Antrim was able to compete in all 7 categories this year and the standard of performances proved that Antrim is now a strong County in Scór with 4 out of 7 acts securing Ulster final places which really is a remarkable achievement. I am so proud of these young people, their mentors , their clubs, families and communities. The Ulster Final will take place on 13th January at 5pm in Downpatrick. Ádh mór oraibh uilig!     Ní neart go cur le chéile!
Bronagh Lennon: Cultural Officer, Coiste Chontae Aontroma