Cumann Lúthchleas Gael Uladh

New film showcases project which brings together communities on the Island of Ireland

July 10th, 2024

A new film has been launched today which showcases a successful project led by the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies and the GAA. 

The project Thinking Futures: Building Recognition, seeks to remove barriers to discussion, discourse and debate, and aims to foster parity of esteem and mutual respect.

Launched last year (the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement) Thinking Futures saw four events in each province of Ireland: Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connacht. These events brought together representatives of the pro-Union community in Northern Ireland with those of the GAA to talk about identities, sectarianism and what the future holds for the Island of Ireland in a post-Brexit world.

Commenting ahead of the initiative, Professor Pete Shirlow Director of the Institute of Irish Studies said:

“It is evident that debate about a shared future required leadership and a commitment by those who engaged to not only speak but to also listen. This initiative broke down barriers between people and stimulated a view that a stronger inter-community voice that challenges prejudiced behaviour and attitudes is both feasible and important.

“Messages and conversations based upon fact and experience do much to aid the GAA community in its wider understanding of barriers to engagement and participation. As project participants agreed prejudice is rarely based on fact, but conversations and events such as these narrow the ground between communities and provides new and healthy understandings of each respective community.”

GAA President Jarlath Burns said:

“The Thinking Futures Project was an extremely beneficial initiative and one that participants found both enlightening and educational. It helped facilitate and foster conversations around the future direction of the island and its people, which may not otherwise happen organically.

“The co-operation of both the University of Liverpool and the Department of Foreign Affairs helped us to bring the programme to all four provinces and afforded those involved the opportunity to better understand the nuances and challenges that this topic of discussion is going to give rise to in the months and years ahead. We can only be better for that.

“I laud all of those who engaged and I look forward to future collaborations of this kind which reflect our values of diversity and inclusion and bolster our efforts to connect with those communities who may not be familiar with our games and activities.”

Brian McAvoy, Ulster GAA CEO/Provincial Secretary said:

“Inclusiveness is a core value of the GAA and this must be reflected in our behaviour and in our actions.  ‘Where We All Belong’ is the mantra of the Association; ‘A Future for All’ is the title of Ulster GAA’s current Strategic Plan.  These are much more than words.  They are a living embodiment of what we stand for and of our onward direction of travel.

“The ‘Thinking Futures ‘Project is an integral part of that journey.  It has taken us on a path of learning, shared understanding and mutual respect.  Our deliberations have demonstrated that most people simply want to enjoy a better future for all and dialogue is an integral part of achieving that goal.  At a time when the constitutional arrangements on this island face an uncertain future, these conversations are more important than ever.”

You can watch the full film and vox pops with participants here.

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