Giles goes back to his home turf to be named parade Grand Marshal
FOOTBALL legend John Giles returned to the area in which he was "born and bred" as he was unveiled as the Grand Marshal of the St Patrick's Festival parade yesterday.
The former Ireland international said it was an honour to take on the role previously held by other sporting greats including boxer Katie Taylor, former goalkeeper Packie Bonner and acclaimed GAA commentator Micheal O Muircheartaigh.
Mr Giles (71) said the eyes of the world would be on the capital for the parade on Saturday, March 17.
"Over the years it has been a very successful parade worldwide," he said.
"Things are not great in this country at the moment so I think it's important that we have the parade and make a success of it again as we have done in previous years."
The soccer commentator, who now lives in Birmingham, returned to the area he grew up in, in Dublin's Ormond Square, close to the Four Courts, for the announcement.
The St Patrick's Festival takes place between March 16 and 19.
However, a dispute over the ongoing Occupy Dame Street protest site remains unresolved just a fortnight ahead of the parade.
It emerged the gardai had formally written to the demonstrators asking that they vacate the Central Bank area ahead of the festival.
Whether this request will be enforced or not remained unclear yesterday, although protesters have said they have no intention of leaving.
Meanwhile, Mr Giles said that for the sake of the city's image, he hoped that the Occupy Dame Street protest might be "postponed".
"I think it's worthwhile postponing anything like that for the sake of the parade and the image that it portrays to the rest of the world," he said.
Mr Giles said he was thrilled to be representing Ireland off the soccer pitch, and reminisced about how he looked forward to the parade when he was a youngster.
"My pals and I used to walk down to O'Connell Bridge and it has changed dramatically. It's a great parade and it's a great thing for Ireland."
St Patrick's Festival chief executive Susan Kirby said Mr Giles was a fantastic choice for Grand Marshal.
"John is a talented sportsman who represented Ireland at the highest level," Ms Kirby said.
"He continues to contribute to the sporting dialogue both nationally and internationally through his sporting punditry."