Monday 25 September 2017

Building work means we're already Games 'winners'

Graham Clifford

That's the view of Bobby McDonagh, the Irish Ambassador to the UK.

He told the Irish Independent: "Enterprise Ireland estimates that in the construction phase of the games alone Irish companies won contracts worth more than €200m.

"If you visited the Olympics site when it was being built you would have seen machinery with Irish names on the side everywhere. Also, in terms of technical support and ticketing, Irish companies won all sorts of contracts," he added.

"In that sense you could say it's an Irish Games. To cap it all we did give Sebastian Coe a certificate of Irish heritage so it doesn't come more Irish than that."

With tens of thousands of Irish sports fans expected to descend on London for the games, Mr McDonagh says his staff are as prepared as they can be for the extravaganza -- "we don't know how many Irish people will be coming over for the Olympics, it's very hard to judge that.

"We will have arrangements in place at the embassy to cope with any additional consular challenges that arise.

"In terms of security the police here are clearly on alert for something that might happen.

Alert

"No one can give guarantees as to whether there could be an incident of some sort but again all conceivable preparations have been made to try and make sure that nothing does happen," he added.

"I think we'll have a great games but people should be alert when they're here."

The godson of Eamon de Valera and father to four daughters, Mr McDonagh has worked for the civil service for 35 years and says the queen's visit to Ireland last year ranked as the highlight of his career.

"My wife and I were part of the party travelling around with the queen, it really was amazing as there were only a dozen people at the core."

And what would Mr de Valera have made of the royal visit and the corresponding outpouring of goodwill on Irish streets?

"I'm sure he would have been very pleased with the visit," says the 58-year old who's thought to be the only godson of the founding father who is actually from outside the de Valera family.

"My mother's father, Seamus O'Doherty, was head of the IRB just after 1916 and so they would have known Mr de Valera. My mother's parents even went to Philadelphia to raise money for him.

"When I was born they asked him if he'd be the godfather and my middle name is also de Valera.

"I probably only met him three or four times. I would have been brought up to the Aras to meet him when I was young. I just remember him as an elderly, kind and dignified man. He gave me a couple of books which I treasure," he said.

Irish Independent

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