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Olympic torch starts five-day tour of Northern Ireland

The flame will cross the border and tour Dublin on Wednesday morning.

Karen Marshall, the first torch bearer from Northern Ireland, poses with the Olympic torch in front of Harland & Wolff shipyard this morning.
Karen Marshall, the first torch bearer from Northern Ireland, poses with the Olympic torch in front of Harland & Wolff shipyard this morning.
Image: Peter Morrison/AP/Press Association Images

THE OLYMPICS TORCH began its five-day tour of Northern Ireland with plenty of excitement and no signs of trouble today as both traditions vowed to show the world how united the community has become after four decades of conflict.

Police warned of extra security to deter any dissident republicans from trying to disrupt the event.

But the Olympic torch proceeded from Belfast’s Titanic Quarter to the prosperous belt of towns along the Co Down coast with no unusual security evident. Just as during its first two weeks in England and Wales, the crowds were free to stand beside the passing torchbearer, who was flanked by four to six tracksuit-clad security staff jogging alongside.

Between stops, a Northern Ireland police motorcycle unit used to protecting VIPs sped ahead to block roads and ensure the torch convoy of more than a dozen vehicles carrying support staff and media stuck to its ambitious schedule to reach every corner of the six counties by Thursday.

Sinn Fein said all of Ireland was excited to see the symbol of the 2012 London Games arrive. The flame will cross the border into the South on Wednesday to tour Dublin, a special concession to demonstrate today’s exceptionally strong British-Irish relations and cooperation between the two governments on the island of Ireland.

“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,” said Caral Ni Chuilin, the Sinn Fein sports minister for Northern Ireland.

Check out TheScore’s Euro 2012 mini-site here>

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