Paralympians honoured at Farmleigh

Fri, Sep 14, 2012, 01:00

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore were among the members of Government who honoured Ireland’s victorious Paralympics team this afternoon.

The team, which won eight gold, three silver and five bronze medals at the games in London, were given a State reception at Farmleigh House.

Hundreds of schoolgirls from the local Mount Sackville School attended to greet the 49-strong team.

Mr Kenny said a State reception was the least that the Government could do to celebrate the success of the team.

He said it was an outstanding achievement for Ireland to finish 19th in the medals table out of 164 countries.

“For two weeks you gave us pride, class, inspiration and joy. Your performance, your attitude and results are all about ability,” he said.

“It was the ability to adopt, to excel and to succeed. Above all, this magnificent adventure has been about shining among some of the best sports people in the world.

“Each medal was a tribute to the discipline, the faith, the confidence and the courage not just of those who brought the medals home, but the entire Paralympics team.”

The Taoiseach maintained the best thing about their achievements was the “excitement and the sheer joy” of the athletes when the Tricolour was raised in the various stadia.

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly, Minister for Sport Leo Varadkar, Minister for Social Protection Joan Bruton and Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald also attended the reception.

Mr Vardakar said Ireland had finished fourth per capita in the table even outperforming countries with much more substantial populations such as Japan and Canada.

Most of the medal winners will be appearing on the Late Late Show tonight. The three Northern Irish athletes who won gold, Jason Smyth, Michael McKillop and Bethany Firth, will have post boxes outside their homes painted gold after Royal Mail relented on their decision to only grant gold post boxes to Team GB athletes.

Double gold medal winning sprinter Jason Smyth said it was a “nice gesture” on the part of Royal Mail and it all started with a “wee tweet for a bit of fun” from him musing as to why the Team Ireland athletes who were living in Northern Ireland were not getting a post box.

The post box in his native village of Eglinton in Co Derry has already been painted gold. His homecoming reception will be tomorrow.