Posing for selfies with one of the leaders of Sinn Fein and standing for the Irish national anthem before watching a GAA match in the Republic of Ireland with an Irish TD.
It was by any accounts a significant, even symbolic, Sunday for Arlene Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and the GAA. And that was the case from the moment Mrs. Foster arrived at St. Tiernach’s Park in Clones, across the Border from where she grew up following days of speculation over whether she would even attend the Ulster Final to watch Fermanagh take on Donegal, breaking new ground for a Unionist leader.
With her close protection officers and Garda in tow and a helicopter flying overhead, Mrs. Foster arrived to applause and cheers and one lone boo. But that quickly stopped when a Fermanagh fan turned to the gentleman in question and remarked: “Shut your mouth, you.” 
To chants of ‘Come on Arlene’, Mrs. Foster made her way to her seat, alongside DUP MLA Christopher Stalford and Irish Enterprise Minister and TD Heather Humphreys. Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill and Michelle Gildernew sat nearby, as did the Ulster Unionist’s Howard Thornton, Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council. “Here, there’s Arlene,” said one excited Donegal fan, straining her neck to have a look.
“What odds about her,” remarked the person next to her. “Well, I think it’s a good thing that she is here,” she replied.
While many praised her attendance it’s understood that some even in her own party were less than happy about her decision to attend a GAA match, particularly on a Sunday. Mrs. Foster hit back, saying: “I am the leader of a political party that wants to have a shared society in Northern Ireland and to do that we have to take steps forward.”
“To do that we also have to build a respect and a tolerance and that’s what I want to do. I hope that others will take the chance to step forward as well and to understand and appreciate and tolerate another culture perhaps that isn’t theirs,” she said.
Mrs. Foster was largely praised on Twitter with one user writing: “As a republican, I believe that Arlene Foster attending the final today is very positive, we should respect this gesture.” While another tweeted: “A gesture is a gesture which is fair enough, but Arlene Foster’s predecessor already attended GAA matches, so for her this is pretty much a risk-free move. It’s going to take more than this to move the needle.”
Ulster Unionist Councillor Howard Thornton has also been praised for attending the match in his role as Council chairman, though not all of his Unionist colleagues were in agreement. Councillor Victor Warrington wrote on the Union First Facebook page that as Chairman others had to “accept the civic responsibility” that comes with the role but added: “As a Ulster Unionist myself I would not have went.” And when someone asked him why Councillor Thornton was there, he said: “You need to ask my party colleague that question.”
When Donegal Captain Michael Murphy lifted the Anglo Celt after beating Fermanagh in the blistering sun 90 minutes later he offered words of encouragement to the Erne men, advising them to keep their heads held high and asking his supporters to show their appreciation to them, and they did in large numbers. Reaching out the hand of friendship was the theme of the day, something that Church leaders, schools, and sports organisations in Fermanagh have been doing for years.
From speaking to people at the match it is clear that many want to see continued progress. As they say, sometimes reaching out and taking someone’s hand is the beginning of a journey.