Olympic Torch arrives in Belfast

 

The Olympic Torch will visit the Belfast slipways where the Titanic was built today as it begins its five-day relay through Northern Ireland.

The spectacular Co Antrim coastline and the setting for this year’s golf Irish Open, Royal Portrush, are also on the itinerary.

The north coast is home to golf’s former US Open winner Graeme McDowell and other sporting high achievers.

Former Olympic champion Dame Mary Peters, who won the pentathlon in 1972, carried the golden lantern through a packed Belfast City Airport after it landed from the Isle of Man.

The arrivals hall was full of cheering, flag-waving children and past Olympians, eager to catch a glimpse of the flame, which is visiting every part of the UK ahead of this year’s London Games.

The torch will also travel to 2013 City of Culture Londonderry and Dublin in a symbol of Anglo-Irish goodwill.

Among sporting figures expected to carry it in Ireland are Olympic boxing medallists Wayne McCullough and Michael Carruth, who will take part in the handover at the border.

Other highlights will be a celebratory event at St Stephen’s Green in Dublin city centre on Wednesday and the crossing of the newly-built Peace Bridge in Londonderry linking the mainly nationalist west of the city with the mainly unionist east.

Celebrities taking part in the relay will include Northern Ireland-born television personalities Zoe Salmon, Patrick Kielty and Colin Murray.

Police in Northern Ireland warned that the terrorism threat level remained severe and appealed for public vigilance.

PA