Wednesday 13 December 2017

Olympic flame arrives for Irish tour

Alan Murray

The Olympic Torch arrived in Ireland last night for a five-day cross-border tour.

The red carpet was rolled out at George Best Belfast City Airport yesterday evening to welcome the arrival of the torch from Britain with the North's First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in attendance.Also there was Northern Ireland's Olympic gold medallist Dame Mary Peters.

Thousands of people are involved in the five-day celebration of the 2012 Olympic Games in London from the tip of the north coast at Ballycastle to Dublin. The cities of Belfast, Derry, Lisburn and Newry will all stage events to celebrate the arrival of the torch before it is taken to Scotland on Thursday to begin the journey south to London for the start of the games in July.

The Republic is the only country outside of Greece and the UK that will host the Olympic flame. More than 40 torch bearers will carry the flame through the streets of Dublin on Wednesday.

President Michael D Higgins will greet the first torch bearer in Howth before the torch is brought to Croke Park ahead of a torch relay around the capital.

The torch will pass several historic sites including the Garden of Remembrance, the GPO, Custom House, St Patrick's Cathedral and Christchurch Cathedral, before arriving at St Stephen's Green.

Ireland's most famous Olympian, 77-year-old runner Ronnie Delany; 71-year-old paralympian Anne Ebbs; former rugby star Shane Horgan; former international footballer Paul McGrath; boxer Kenneth Egan; suicide prevention worker Joan Freeman; and John Collins, who will represent the Traveller community, will be among the proud members of the relay team.

Up to 3,000 school- children from across the Magherafelt council area in Co Derry will combine to form the largest ever Olympic rings symbol when the torch is brought to the town as part of the relay on Thursday.

Sunday Independent

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