The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader has described her attendance at a Gaelic games match as a “significant step” towards a shared society.

Arlene Foster said she received a “very warm welcome” from Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) fans and officials at the Ulster Football Final on Sunday.

“As a political leader, sometimes we have to do things that we wouldn’t be comfortable with, ordinarily.

“I have to say, I think I made the right decision.” she told the BBC.

Mrs Foster travelled to Clones, County Monaghan for the final, becoming the first DUP leader to cross the Irish border to attend a GAA match.

She stood for the Irish national anthem and took her seat in the stands close to Sinn Féin’s deputy leader, Michelle O’Neill.

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Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme, Mrs Foster said she found the match “interesting” and thanked the GAA’s Ulster Council for the welcome she received.

‘Reaching out’

She explained that she “thought long and hard” before decided to go, and took pastoral advice from her bishop about attending such an event on a Sunday.

“I did recognise that there are those who are supporters of my party who would not be comfortable with that for a number of reasons, not least the fact that the Ulster GAA final is played on a Sunday and it’s not the normal thing that I would be at on a Sunday,” she said.

However, she added that she was leading “a political party that wants to have a shared future for everybody in Northern Ireland so that we all feel comfortable living here”.

She said she believed that would help to secure the union between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

Mrs Foster was asked if she was on “a charm offensive”, given that she has recently met the County Fermanagh GAA team, attended a Muslim festival and is shortly due to attend an LGBT event.

“I hope it’s not an offensive,” she replied.

“I hope it’s recognised for what it is – and that is a genuine reaching out from someone who is looking to the future, who wants to build a Northern Ireland where everybody feels comfortable; where our children feel that they can identify as Irish and British, as Northern Irish and British or just as British.

“That’s what I want to build – a Northern Ireland where everybody feels comfortable and where everybody wants to co-exist together.

“That’s my vision for Northern Ireland and I know that it is shared by many people judging by the reaction that I have had over the weekend.”

IRA names

However, Mrs Foster also suggested the GAA could do more to help unionists feel more comfortable getting involved in its sports.

“I hope as well that we can start a conversation with the GAA about a number of different areas – not least the whole issue of why it is that unionists feel that there is a barrier between the GAA and themselves

“And of course that comes down to issues such as naming grounds after former IRA members and trophies being named after IRA members.”