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Dublin: 16 °C Saturday 21 September, 2019

Over €180,000 raised as GAA players sleep out for homelessness

Last night saw 400 past and present inter-county players take part in events around the country and in the US.

WITH RECORD NUMBERS of Irish people sleeping homeless and in emergency accommodation, a volunteer group of current and former inter-country GAA players have come together to help improve the situation.

Gaelic Voices For Change, an organisation supported by the GPA and the WGPA, hosted their solidarity sleep-out last night in order to raise funds and awareness through sleeping rough around the country.

Events took place at Dublin’s GPO as well as in Cork, Galway, Limerick, Belfast, Portlaoise, Wexford, Waterford, Carlow, Nasas, New York and Boston. The original number was expected to be 150 but over 400 people ended up taking part, with many high-profile players getting on board.

“The thing that struck me most was hearing the chorus of voices on the street sincerely dissatisfied with the Governments response to what is fast becoming a humanitarian concern,” said former Wexford hurling captain Diarmuid Lyng. “People walking around their fellow people, one up the other down, serves the humanity in neither.

“People who spoke to us said that they accepted that they have a role to play too in their own behaviours, how they contribute to the issue, but fundamentally they feel that at a structural level, we are creating this problem by becoming economic slaves to vested interests in this land. Accepting that is accepting of a miserable inequality for all concerned. This magical country with its beautiful people shouldn’t be subjected to that reality.

“The Government must act in the interests of it’s citizens and improve levels of social protection. It was also a privilege to stand with fellow players, everyone that joined together got far more out of it that they could possibly have imagined. This was always going to be an upside of this effort, more balanced players make better players, but that all played second fiddle to the issue at hand.”

“I’m delighted to support this campaign,” added ex-Cork footballer Valerie Mulcahy. “I feel like it’s important to use our voices as players and help those that are vulnerable in our society, not turn our back on them. That is why I took part.

“It’s not acceptable to have people homeless in Ireland. Gaelic Games are built on communities, with a collective sense of belonging and supporting your neighbour. This sleep-out was a wider expression of that ethos by the players involved, extending a helping hand to others in our community.”

At the moment, €180,000 has been raised and all funds will go to homeless charities including Peter McVerry Trust, DePaul, the Simon Communities, Focus Ireland, the Capuchin Day Centre, Cope Galway, Thomand House and Novas in Limerick, and the Welcome Organisation in Belfast.

Singer Roisin O, the daughter of Mary Black, showed up at the GPO to lend her support and perform for those present.


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Ben Blake

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