Olympic flame bids farewell to NI

Published Thursday, 07 June 2012
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The Olympic flame has left Northern Ireland after completing its five-day journey, with UTV's own Paul Clark amongst the last of the torchbearers.

Olympic flame bids farewell to NI
UTV's Paul Clark carried the Olympic flame through Crossgar. (© UTV)

Larne in Co Antrim was its final destination on Thursday afternoon.

The flame was given a glowing send-off amid gloomy weather, before sailing away on a ferry to Scotland for the next part of its UK-wide tour.

Earlier, local comedian Patrick Kielty got the last leg underway in Newcastle, Co Down, before handing over to Paul Clark in Crossgar.

The news anchor said it was his "moment to shine".

"I like to think that the reason why I've been asked to take part in the torch run is because of what I do outside of television," Paul explained.

"I'm the president of the Northern Ireland Hospice and I feel very strongly about that role.

"It's truly remarkable the number of people who have been coming out this morning, even though it's raining a little bit, but they have come out to cheer us on and to see the Olympic flame."

This morning I ran in memory of all of those who have been touched in any way by the hospice.

Paul Clark

The flame has been passed from hand to hand 400 times during an emotional and inspiring tour across the length and breadth of Northern Ireland.

A quarter of a million people have lined the streets of towns and villages to see it.

In Portrush it visited the world-famous basaltic columns of the Giant's Causeway - in Fermanagh it stopped by Enniskillen Castle and the Marble Arch Caves.

The torch even made a symbolic trip across the border to tour Dublin, where it was carried through the streets of the Irish capital by Jedward.

"There have been many iconic moments," said Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín.

"From the flame's arrival at George Best Belfast City Airport to its departure from the Port of Larne - from the Titanic Visitors Centre to the Giant's Causeway and from the Peace Bridge in Derry to the Skywalk at Croke Park.

"The torch may have moved on, but the Olympic Spirit burns brightly in Ireland - and for that we should all be justifiably proud."

The efforts of the PSNI during the torch run have also been praised.

One arrest was made after a dissident protest in Londonderry forced the relay to be re-routed on Monday, while all other legs of the journey were peaceful.

"This was a huge commitment by the PSNI and one which they undertook with equal amounts of enthusiasm and professionalism," said Justice Minister David Ford.

"The level of public support for the Olympic Torch was there for all to see in the numbers who came out to cheer it on its journey across Northern Ireland.

"The PSNI did a tremendous job in facilitating that interest and allowing the public to get as close as possible to the symbol of the Olympic Games.

"The lasting memory and images of the Olympic Torch in Northern Ireland will be hugely positive, not just for those participating in the relay but for the thousands who came out to cheer it over the past five days."

The flame is now on its way to Scotland where it will embark on a week of relays and celebrations in the country, passing through 120 communities and landmarks including the Robert Burns Museum, St Andrews Golf Club, the Forth Bridge and Loch Ness.

It will arrive in London next month for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
barry in dungannon wrote (966 days ago):
Dave, what other events has NI hosted where the Republic had to be involved? The 'republicans' who ruined the relay in Derry are residents of NI and so cant be blamed on the south who would have absolutely nothing to do with them.
RJ in Kilrea wrote (966 days ago):
hey rachael the tourch is now in scotland i believe. hope this helps.thanks
jimmy mac in Canada wrote (966 days ago):
What a lovely gesture from Mr Clark. And what a great honor for those who proudly carried the iconic flame, all over the island of Ireland. Lets hope all our young sports people, do well during the games.And bring home lots of gold... Good Luck to all.
dave in ni wrote (967 days ago):
it seems that northern ireland cannot host an event without the republic being involved ,and republicans still manage to ruin it.
Rachael in UK wrote (967 days ago):
does anyone know what time the olympic flame is going through templepatrick ? or has it been by already? - im determined to see it at some point lol!
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