Sunday 17 December 2017

'Scuppered' homecoming party was planned weeks ago

Fiach Kelly and Mark Hilliard

PLANS for an Olympic homecoming in Dublin that were almost scuppered at the last minute had been under way since the start of the month, it was confirmed last night.

Fresh details emerged of how far the plans were mired in confusion, even up to Sunday night as Team Ireland prepared to fly home.

The athletes will be welcomed in the capital tomorrow afternoon after an agreement was finally brokered.

It emerged yesterday that Dublin City Council was asked by the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) to start planning for the homecoming almost two weeks ago.

This was before Ireland had lifted a single medal at the Games.

Then after almost a fortnight of planning and five medals in the bag, things changed. On Friday, the council was told athletes wanted to go straight home instead.

Dublin Lord Mayor Naoise O Muiri said: "Since contact from the OCI on August 2, we started working on planning an event.

"The event was on the table until we got a communication back (on Friday) via the OCI that the athletes were tired.

"We put the plans on ice because, from a taxpayer's perspective, we can't run an event and spend the money if the athletes aren't going to be there."

Mr O Muiri said the city always wanted to put on a homecoming, and expected as many as 20,000 people at the celebrations in Dawson Street in the capital at 1pm tomorrow.

The event was finally resurrected after a weekend of controversy, when the OCI contacted the council again late on Sunday.

A spokesman for the OCI refused to be drawn on the saga last night, saying: "That story is finished now, we had a great homecoming today and we're looking forward to a big crowd on Wednesday."

Irish Independent

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