On the same day that Paul Earley led the Irish International Rules team to victory over Australia, 60 young GAA members arrived in Croke Park to participate in a pilot programme dedicated to the honour of his late brother, Dermot.
Brought together by the National University of Ireland, Galway, Foróige, and the GAA, the Dermot Earley Youth Leadership Initiative aims to inspire a new generation of young Irish leaders by engaging them with the values and ideals Dermot epitomised on and off the field of play.
The Earley family were represented on the day by Dermot’s wife, Mary, and three of their six children, Dermot Jr, Anne-Marie and Paula. Dermot Jr, a former Kildare inter-county All Star, said: “Enabling young people to achieve their full potential was something my father was passionate about. We are delighted to give our support to this initiative and look forward to the positive influence these young leaders will have on their GAA clubs, their communities and beyond.”
The 15- to 18-years-old male and female participants represent 38 different GAA clubs across counties Roscommon, Kildare, and Galway. They will explore all elements of leadership before being asked to put their skills to work back in their clubs and communities. Volunteers from the GAA and Foróige from the three counties, who received training from NUIG, will act as programme facilitators. Those who complete all three modules between October 2013 and April next year will be eligible to graduate from NUIG with a Foundation Certificate in Youth Leadership and Community Action in October 2014.
An Uachtarán CLG, Mr Liam O’Neill, who officially launched the programme, urged the participants to explore all potential avenues when considering how best to serve their communities as leaders. He noted that he was just eight-years-old when he decided he wanted to become the president of the GAA, and he said that he hoped at least one person in the room would have the same aspiration.
Chairperson of the National Council of Foróige, Mr. Paul Maher, said that “Foróige is proud to be part of an initiative that honours the memory of a great leader, Dermot Earley. For a number of years now Foróige has wanted to bring our leadership programme to young people outside of the Foróige network and we couldn’t have asked for better partners than the GAA and NUI Galway. This programme enhances the vision, passion and idealism of young people by teaching them key leadership skills and challenging them to use these skills for their own and society’s benefit.”
Professor Pat Dolan, NUIG and UNESCO Chair of Children, Youth and Civic Engagement, congratulated the participants in being selected for the programme and said they looked forward to the future contributions they would make as leaders in their own right. All remaining sessions in the 50-instructional hour programme will happen in the participants’ own counties. Participants will also have the opportunity to fundraise and travel to Zambia as part of the Alan Kerins Project’s intercultural youth programme.
For further media enquiries contact GAA Community and Health Manager Colin Regan on 01-8658674 or 087-2945705.