Updated: 13/04/17 : 04:36:14
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GAA leads in volunteering - Harkin

The GAA, which is organised in every parish in Ireland, has more volunteers working in it than any other organisation in the country.

This was the opinion of Independent MEP Marian Harkin when she spoke at the launch of the programme of events to be mounted by Sligo GAA during the county’s designation as 2017 European Capital of Volunteering.

The launch, which was held in the Sligo GAA Center of Excellence, Scarden, was mounted to mark Sligo GAA’s determination to play a full part in recognising and demonstrating volunteerism within the county, she said.

“As an activist for many years in the community voluntary sector I have seen the huge social and economic value of volunteering and within that sector the huge role played in it by the GAA”, she said.  The creation by the GAA of its Volunteer Recruitment Toolkit was indicative of the organisation’s’ recognition of, and commitment to, the vital role of volunteering to the development of its games and associated activities, she said.  Her commitment to volunteering had led her in her political life to continue to promote and support volunteering at national and EU levels, she said.

To further encourage support for volunteering, she had, in 2007, founded the European Parliament Volunteering Interest Group to ensure that volunteering remained firmly on the EU policy agenda, she said.  “One of the first positive results from this was our Interest Group’s success in persuading the European Commission to designate 2011 European Year of Volunteering to recognise and support the efforts of the estimated 100 million volunteers across the EU including 1.5 million in Ireland.

“Within this huge number of Irish volunteers the GAA, as a national organisation and Sligo GAA as a vital cog in its structure, benefits enormously from the involvement of volunteers and the creation of the Centre of Excellence at Scarden is a most impressive example of the effectiveness of voluntary community action”, Marian Harkin stated.

“County Sligo has benefited enormously from the efforts of volunteers in a range of organisations and I was delighted that the efforts of Sligo Volunteer Centre and Sligo County Council, which I supported, achieved the designation of 2017 as European Capital of Volunteering for Sligo”, Independent Marian Harkin said.

She urged the GAA in Sligo to continue its volunteering ethos and to ensure that as many people as possible were encouraged into participation in the organisation’s activities.  “This year in particular everybody should be mindful that the main reason why, according to the principal reason outlined in the GAA Volunteer Recruitment Toolkit, people do not participate in club activities is ‘because they were never asked’, the Sligo based MEP concluded.