Tuesday 21 November 2017

Taoiseach joins campaign to bring Olympic torch to Ireland for the first time ever

The North's minister for culture Caral Ni Chuilin with Belfast schoolchildren and the Olympic Torch
The North's minister for culture Caral Ni Chuilin with Belfast schoolchildren and the Olympic Torch

Shane Hickey and Fiach Kelly

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny last night threw his support behind moves to bring the Olympic torch to Ireland for the first time next year.

Advanced talks are taking place to bring the iconic flame to Dublin as part of the relay route which will see it carried around the UK in advance of the 2012 London games.

The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) wants to bring the torch to the capital when it is touring around Northern Ireland next June.

The 70-day, 8,000-mile torch relay will travel the length and breadth of the UK, starting on May 19, before it reaches the opening ceremony at the Olympic stadium on July 27.

Speaking ahead of his meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron last night, Mr Kenny said he welcomed the idea of bringing the torch to Dublin.

"It would be exceptionally well received in Ireland here and you can rest assured that both governments, and we've spoken about this previously, will give full support to this if the International Olympic Council agreed to it," said Mr Kenny.

The London 2012 Organising Committee confirmed yesterday that it was in discussions with the OCI and the Irish Government to take the flame to Dublin.

"These discussions are at an early stage. No route has yet been discussed and this is something we will work up with the relevant authorities before further details are confirmed later this year," the statement said.

President of the OCI Pat Hickey started lobbying to have the flame brought to Dublin when London was announced as the games' venue in 2005.

A spokesman for the OCI said it would be appropriate as the Irish Olympic team comes from both sides of the Border. He said the Irish body was "cautiously optimistic" that it would either be carried or brought to Dublin for a symbolic visit of less than 24 hours.

A final decision on the matter will be made by the International Olympic Committee at a meeting in Durban, South Africa in the first week of July.

The Olympic torch will arrive in Portrush, Northern Ireland on June 3 before progressing to Derry the next day, then Newry and Belfast before it leaves for Glasgow on June 8.

Irish Independent

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