Olympic Flame arrives in Belfast ahead of cross-border relay

Tuesday 05 June 2012 12.07
Boxer Amir Khan lights the cauldron with the Olympic Flame at the end of the relay leg through Bolton
Boxer Amir Khan lights the cauldron with the Olympic Flame at the end of the relay leg through Bolton

The Olympic Flame has landed in Belfast ahead of a five-day tour of Northern Ireland as part of the London 2012 torch relay.

The iconic symbol arrived from the Isle of Man this evening.

Former Olympians and the First and Deputy First Ministers were among those who attended a special ceremony to welcome the flame to Belfast.

First Minister Peter Robinson said it was a privilege to welcome the flame to Northern Ireland and witness its journey over the coming days.

"It will be carried by 400 torchbearers through cities, towns and villages, past many of our iconic landmarks, creating what promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle for all to see," he said.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: "The all-Ireland torch relay epitomises the values and spirit of the Olympics.

"The Olympics are a celebration of sport, culture and local heroes. It is great that we are playing our part in this celebration."

The torch will travel through more than 60 towns and villages in Northern Ireland over the coming days, before making a short trip to Dublin on Wednesday.

Olympic boxing medallists Wayne McCullough and Michael Carruth, who will take part in the handover at the border, are among the sporting figures who will carry the torch.

Other highlights will be an event at St Stephen's Green in Dublin on Wednesday and the crossing of the newly-built Peace Bridge in Derry.

Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson said the relay will be a "tremendous showcase" for the people, places and businesses of Northern Ireland, and will celebrate the role that Northern Ireland is playing in London 2012.

After the handover at the border on Wednesday, the torch travel by road to Howth where a 16-year-old schoolboy from St Fintan’s High School in Sutton will be the first person to run with the flame.

The torch will then travel to Croke Park where Kilkenny hurler Henry Shefflin will parade it on the skyline of the arena before it is brought a tour of the capital.

Thirty-nine runners will carry it an average of 300 metres each before ending at the bandstand in St Stephen's Green around midday.

Olympic silver medallist Sonia O'Sullivan, former soccer international Paul McGrath and former rugby international Shane Horgan will be among the other torch carriers.

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