A Donegal GAA club is to become the first club in Ulster to implement a complete smoking ban at its ground.
St. Mary’s in Convoy will be introducing the ban as a part of a health initiative which is backed by officials at Croke Park.
The ban will mean smoking will not be allowed anywhere at Páirc Naomh Mhuire and smokers will have to go outside the gate to indulge their cravings.
Signage at the ground will inform the public of the ban.
The club will be just the second in the country to introduce the ban. St Mary’s is one of 60 clubs across the country which is participating in the second phase of the healthy clubs initiative which is run by GAA headquarters.
The policy was endorsed by the club’s health and well being committee and will be officially launched in November.
The club’s children’s officer, Lorena Barron, said there has been huge support for the new policy within the club, while adding there is not a big issue with smoking at the ground. “We are not anti-smoking in any way, we are just trying to promote a healthy lifestyle within our club.”
The policy is just one of a number of initiatives that have been run at the club, including a healthy-eating policy, a drug and alcohol awareness programme for teenagers, and a good mental health awareness initiative.
“The committee were very excited about it and just want us to go ahead,” Lorena added. “We are delighted to get the go ahead and are delighted that we will be just the second club in the country to ban smoking.
“It is great to be pioneering something and going for something that will support our players and the community in promoting healthy living.
“We do not want to demonise the idea of smoking at the side of the pitch, but we are trying to encourage our young players and supporters from taking it up.
“Attitudes are changing - smoking is not the norm anymore.
“We want to see that within the GAA community. We encourage our athletes to be as healthy as they can - mental health, physical health - this policy is another way to helps players and the community achieve that.”