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Sunday 26 February 2017

North 'should celebrate diversity' -- McCausland

Controversial DUP Culture Minister Nelson McCausland has told a top GAA newspaper that the North should celebrate its cultural diversity.

The minister who nationalists accuse of stalling legislation to protect the Irish language used the interview to detail his concerns over aspects of the GAA.

But he also spoke about his journey since taking office and how he has come to know leading figures in gaelic games and built a positive relationship.

The minister also spoke of his hopes of encouraging greater cultural understanding between unionists and nationalists.

"Gaelic culture has borrowed from Ulster-Scots culture, Ulster-Scots culture has borrowed from Gaelic culture in terms of words we use, the tunes our musicians play, all of these things interact," he said.

"So it's about that goal of a shared place, but nevertheless recognising our diversity and our differences, while still treating everybody equitably and fairly.

"Difference shouldn't lead to division. Difference should be celebrated as diversity."

The Minister told Gaelic Life: "The model which the Community Relations Council came up with was that such a future would be based around equity, diversity and interdependence.

"We have different traditions, there is diversity. There are people of different cultural identities, cultural traditions and so on.

"All those traditions should be treated equitably and fairly, yet we should all realise that we impact upon each other. A shared future has to be built around a social cohesion and an interdependence."

The minister said he remained concerned over GAA clubs or events named after republican figures. He also said the holding of a Hunger Strike commemoration event around grounds at a gaelic pitch in Galbally, Co Tyrone, had also unsettled unionists.

The minister accepted the GAA had changed longstanding rules to make the organisation more welcoming to people from a unionist background.

But he added: "I think the core issue however remains that within the rules and constitution of the GAA there is an aspiration for a united Ireland."

He noted however that he had attended gaelic football matches in Canada and with the PSNI gaelic football team in Belfast.

The minister said he had also built a good working relationship with leading figures from the GAA in Ulster.

"The more you work with people, the more you get to know them and the more you learn about them," he said.

"And I'd like to think that we have a good working relationship, a very positive one."

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