Fermanagh woman to the fore of East Belfast GAA club

A FERMANAGH woman is blazing a trail for the new Belfast GAA club, East Belfast, which celebrated its first anniversary on Sunday with an ‘East Belfast Together’ event to celebrate a year of diversity and integration.
The club, formed in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, is a cross-community partnership, which includes members from all sides of the community.
Founding member, Ciara Boake, (formerly Tinney of Sydare, Ballinamallard), established a partnership with the ‘Home Plus Charity’ organisation on University Street in Belfast to make the club include to Sudanese, Nigerian and Syrian immigrants.
Speaking to The Irish News, Ciara feels very privileged to have been able to make the GAA club diverse and accessible for the whole East Belfast community.
“Obviously the recent migrant tragedy [where 27 people perished off the coast of Calais] and the fact that people have to make these journeys and are often not even made welcome, had a big impact. It would break your heart.”
“Home Plus Charity put us in touch with some families and they came to the summer camp and had an absolute ball. They were bringing food each day and it was just a really good experience for everyone and they loved it so much they came back the following Saturday and they’ve never left.”
In particular, Ciara feels very fortunate to be able to help out the Syrian people who have just recently moved to the city.
“We also had an Arabic translator for newly arrived Syrian families, but when kids are kicking football about they don’t need to speak the same language. The most basic way of communicating is through playing.
“We had a bus pick them up every Saturday morning and you started to see conversations happening, it’s just happening in front of your eyes that they are integrating.
“The fact that our kids are getting to make friends with Syrian kids is amazing.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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