Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has welcomed the Olympic Torch on its first full day in the north.
The all-Ireland Torch Relay made an early start this morning, leaving the iconic Titanic Building just after 6am.
Speaking after the Torch left Belfast, the Minister said; "This is just the start of the Torch's exciting journey here. The all-Ireland Torch Relay is a celebration of sport, culture and our local heroes. This really is our opportunity to shine and showcase our cities, beautiful scenery and most of all the people who live here.
"Each Torchbearer has their own unique story, be they an elite sportsperson, someone who has overcome adversity, or a person who makes a difference to their community.
"Karen Marshall our first Torchbearer is an amazing example. Karen has lived with Crohn's disease for the last 14 years but she doesn't let it slow her down. She works full time with marginalised young people and in her free time she volunteers for her local church, for REACT (Reconciliation Education and Community Training) and is a member of the local District Policing Partnership. She is a real inspiration to the local people of Tynan in County Armagh and today is an inspiration to all becoming the first torchbearer here.
|Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín pictured with local woman Karen Marshall, the First Torch bearer of the all-Ireland Torch Relay at Titanic Belfast this morning|
"Today will see the Torch travel from Belfast along the route to Portrush, taking in places such as Glenariff, Ballycastle, Ballycastle and Bushmills. It will also be visiting the village of Dervock - home of Kennedy Kane McArthur, a gold medal Olympian. I hope as many as possible take the opportunity to come out and cheer on the Torchbearers as they take part in what is sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"I know there are a number of exciting events and activities planned as the Torch makes its way through our towns and villages. For example, there is a visit to Stormont with activities from some of our local Inspire projects, the unique spectacle of local rowing clubs rowing alongside the Relay as it makes its way along the coastline at Glynn, an afternoon of family fun at Carnfunnock Country Park in Larne, and a balloon release by local schoolchildren in Castlereagh. With all the events it will be a truly memorable day."
For information on the Torch route please visit www.london2012.com/torch-relay/route
For information on local events please contact your local Council area.
The family event at Carnfunnock Country Park will include a Mount Olympus maze; storytelling; arts and crafts; live music; sports tasters from archery to Zumba; BMX stunt show; and tasters in break dancing, hip hop and parkour. It is part of the Larne Alive Ignite the Light Festival which was awarded the London 2012 Inspire mark. For more information see http://www.larne.gov.uk/template1.asp?pid=1720&parent=1719&area=5&aName=Business&text=1
The Inspire programme is a participation initiative spanning England, Scotland, Wales and the North of Ireland. It formally recognises exceptional non-commercial projects which have been inspired by the 2012 Games. For further information, see http://www.dcalni.gov.uk/index/games_legacy/inspire_programme.htm or contact Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org