ULSTER Unionist Party leader Tom Elliott yesterdayheld "positive" talks with the GAA despite having previously sparked controversy over gaelic games.
The Fermanagh and South Tyrone representative was recently elected
as party leader, but during his campaign he told supporters he would never attend a gaelic game or a gay rights event.
The remarks were seen to be aimed at reaffirming his credentials among
traditionalists, but yesterday he met a senior GAA offcial and spoke of the need for nationalists and unionists to respect each other's traditions.
His talks with Danny Murphy, secretary of the Ulster Council of the
GAA, came after Mr Elliott also met representatives of soccer and rugby
over issues including the funding of stadium improvements for the three
Asked if he would reconsider attending a gaelic game, he said: "I
always keep my options open. What I will do is obviously look at every
invitation and give respect to the organisation.
"I think it's important that we reach out to everyone in society and I have always done that – but what I will not do is obviously change my own standards or respects.
"And that means that I respect other traditions and I ask for the same respect from them and that's what life's about here. That doesn't
mean that I'll become an ardent supporter or ardent fan of that particular organisation, but what it does mean is that I have a respect for them."
Mr Murphy told UTV: "We discovered where our positions are, and I think we're better acquainted with the position of the Ulster Unionist Party with regard to the GAA, and they probably have a better understanding of where we're coming from."
On the question of Mr Elliott attending a GAA event, Mr Murphy said that was a personal matter.
"I don't think that, if we are going to work at building respect and understanding, that we shouldn't be telling people what they should or
shouldn't do or vice versa," he said.
"If he wants to attend a game, he can attend a game. If he doesn't, we won't be asking him to attend a game against his wishes."
Mr Elliott's comments about the GAA sparked theresignation of the UUP's
Trevor Ringland - a former Ireland rugby international.