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More than 400 inter-county GAA players plan to sleep rough in 12 towns and cities across the island of Ireland from 6pm on Saturday evening in solidarity with the homeless. Already they have raised more than €120,000 for homeless charities.
A voluntary group of past and present inter-county GAA players, supported by the Gaelic Players Association and Women’s Gaelic Players Association, they have formed “Gaelic Voices for Change” to focus on important social issues, beginning with the housing and homelessness crisis.
Members include current and former Dublin footballers Eamonn Fennell, Michael Darragh MacAuley and Sinéad Finnegan, Tipperary hurlers Brendan Maher and Patrick “Bonner” Maher, Waterford hurler Noel Connors, Cork footballer Valerie Mulcahy, former Wexford hurling captain Diarmuid Lyng, Tyrone footballer Gemma Begley, Cavan footballer Alan O’Mara, and Roscommon footballers Pat Nolan and Alan Moore.
On Saturday evening they plan a 12-hour solidarity sleep-out, beginning at 6pm in Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick, New York, Boston, Belfast, Carlow, Naas, Sligo, and Wexford. A sleep out involving the Laois senior hurlers began on Friday at 10pm on Lyster Square in Portlaoise.
All funds raised will go to the 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.
People can support by donating online at gaelicvoicesforchange.com and already €120,952 has been contributed to this site.
In Dublin the sleep- out will take place at the GPO on O’Connell St, in Galway it is towards the Quay St side of Shop St, in Limerick at Brown Thomas on O’Connell St, in Slligo at the Knox Cafe on O’Connell’s St, and in Belfast at Cornmarket Square.Further location details also at gaelicvoicesforchange.com
In a statement on the the website participants say “we strongly believe that as GAA players that we have a unique opportunity to use our voices to mobilise change for those most in need”.
As Gaelic Voices for Change they “first came together just over two months ago”, and since then “our movement has exploded”. They are “independent and not aligned to any political party or ideology” with an initial focus on the escalating housing and homeless crisis.
“We are alarmed by Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) reports that Ireland now has the highest child homelessness rate in Europe and that, according to Focus Ireland, there has been a 24 per cent increase in homelessness in the past year,” they said.