According to research commissioned by Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) was voted Ireland’s greatest ever force for social change, edging out charity St Vincent de Paul and former president and social advocate Mary McAleese.
The GAA, with a presence in every county in Ireland, took 34 percent of the vote, followed by St Vincent de Paul at 19 percent and former president Mary McAleese at 12 percent. Founded in the late 19th century, the GAA focuses on promoting Gaelic games, which are traditional Irish sports such as hurling, Gaelic football, and handball. It also promotes Irish music, dance, and language.
Others identified as making a positive social impact on Ireland were John Hume, Bono, Bob Geldof, and Sister Stanislaus Kennedy of Focus Ireland.
The survey of over 200 adults revealed a desire to make social change happen in the country, with one in two respondents saying they would be willing to get involved in making change happen in education, their local community, and disability.
35 percent of respondents identified individual citizens as most responsible for making social change happen in Ireland, compared to 24 percent who identified politicians and political parties.
“The public evidently wants social change and is signaling that it is most likely to come from individuals and communities rather than the traditional institutions of government, church, and business,” said Sean Coughlan, CEO of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland. “It is both hugely significant and encouraging that nearly half of the public are prepared to assist in making a contribution to the changes we need in the near future.”
Cultural identity and sense of community as a nation were identified as the two elements of society that the Irish are most proud of. On the other hand, respondents identified political and health systems as aspects they were least proud of. No less than 70 percent believe that the political system is the area of Irish society most in need of reform and improvement.
In order to solve some of Ireland’s social and environmental problems, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland finds social entrepreneurs and helps them in the development of their projects. Over the last 7 years, it has invested €4.9 million supporting 161 social entrepreneurs.
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