Friday 20 April 2018

Olympic torch relay organisers quash fears over security ahead of appearance in Dublin

Olivia O'Toole, left, and
Joan Freeman, who join
today's relay, which will
end with Sonia O’Sullivan,
inset, lighting the
cauldron at St Stephen's
Green
Olivia O'Toole, left, and Joan Freeman, who join today's relay, which will end with Sonia O’Sullivan, inset, lighting the cauldron at St Stephen's Green
Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

ORGANISERS of today's Olympic torch relay through Dublin have confirmed they are not putting on extra security following scuffles in Northern Ireland.

Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey said he has no concerns "whatsoever" about the security of the relay.

Trouble flared in Derry on Monday when dissident republican protesters scuffled with police as the flame was about to pass over the city's Peace Bridge.

Chief Superintendent Aidan Reid of the Garda National Traffic Bureau said security arrangements were in place to protect both the torch and the runners.

The torch will be accompanied by gardai during its Irish leg.

Following the calamitous international torch run for the Beijing Olympics, in which protesters attacked the relay and attempted to extinguish the flame, the International Olympic Committee introduced a rule that the torch cannot leave the host country.

However, Mr Hickey said a special case was made for Dublin following lobbying of the IOC and the support of Seb Coe, who is overseeing the London Games.

"The Olympic Council of Ireland is the Olympic committee for the island of Ireland, so how could you have the torch in a part of the island and not come down to the capital of the Republic of Ireland?" he asked.

Nervous

Up to 6,000 people are expected to welcome the torch when it arrives in Howth at 8am today, while another 9,000 are due to gather at St Stephen's Green when Sonia O'Sullivan, the final torch bearer, uses the flame to light an Olympic cauldron at 11.40am.

Meanwhile, two of the 41 torch bearers in today's relay confessed to feeling nervous.

"I'm so nervous in case I trip or fall," laughed Joan Freeman, founder of Pieta House, the centre for suicide prevention.

Ms Freeman will carry the torch 300 metres from Holles Street to Merrion Square East.

Olivia O'Toole, a former captain of the women's international soccer team and Ireland's top female goal scorer, said she walks her section of the route -- from Seville Place to the Samuel Beckett Bridge -- every day, so knows it well.

"I'm still worried about potholes and in case my hair goes up in flames," she joked.

Irish Independent

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