Robinson, speaking Thursday at a Co-Operation Ireland dinner in Belfast -- held to honor the GAA -- praised the organization for its efforts to reach across the sectarian divide, the BBC reported.
The first minister, who is head of the Democratic Unionist Party, said politicians also need to reach beyond their own communities.
"In the last few years Co-Operation Ireland has celebrated the role of rugby and football in peace-building and it is fitting that tonight we very publicly acknowledge the important role of the GAA," he said. "It is a testament to the progress that we have all made that tonight we can acknowledge the GAA's role in peace-building by inviting a first minister from the unionist tradition to the lectern."
Northern Ireland, split by religion and politics, is also divided by sports. The GAA promotes traditional Irish sports like Gaelic football and hurling, while rugby and cricket are perceived as unionist games.
The GAA headquarters is at Croke Park in Dublin in what is now the Irish Republic, where the Royal Irish Constabulary opened fire during a football game in 1920, killing 14 civilians retaliation for the Bloody Sunday assassinations.
Jim Allister, a Traditional Unionist leader, called Robinson's speech "foolish," the Belfast Telegraph reported. He said if the GAA wants to reach out to unionists it should stop naming clubs after republicans killed during the decades of sectarian violence.
Joe Brolly, a former all-Ireland Gaelic football player turned lawyer and football analyst, said the GAA has the right to decide on its own club names and called the issue a "sideshow." Brolly said his home club in Dungiven is named after Kevin Lynch -- one of 10 republican prisoners who died in the 1981 hunger strike in the Maze Prison outside Belfast -- because Lynch was a member of the club and a champion hurler.
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