Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Calls for joint celebration to mark success of Northern Ireland's Olympians

By Lindsay Fergus

Published 14/08/2012

Belfast Olympic boxers Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon are welcomed back to the city
Belfast Olympic boxers Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon are welcomed back to the city
Belfast Olympic boxers Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon are welcomed back to the city
Belfast Olympic boxers Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon are welcomed back to the city
Belfast Olympic boxers Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon are welcomed back to the city
Northern Irish Olympic Bronze Medalists, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon arrived home yesterday at the Titanic Signature Building in Belfast
Northern Irish Olympic Bronze Medalists, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon arrived home yesterday at the Titanic Signature Building in Belfast
Northern Irish Olympic Bronze Medalists, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon arrived home yesterday at the Titanic Signature Building in Belfast
Northern Irish Olympic Bronze Medalists, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon arrived home yesterday at the Titanic Signature Building in Belfast
Northern Irish Olympic Bronze Medalists, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon arrived home yesterday at the Titanic Signature Building in Belfast
Northern Irish Olympic Bronze Medalists, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon arrived home yesterday at the Titanic Signature Building in Belfast
Northern Irish Olympic Bronze Medalists, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon arrived home yesterday at the Titanic Signature Building in Belfast
Belfast boxers Michael Conlon and Paddy Barnes, two of the 20 local athletes who competed in the 2012 Olympic Games pictured at a reception in Titanic Belfast after arriving home from London yesterday
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Monday 13th August 2012 - Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye Reception at Titanic Belfast for local 2012 OlympiansBelfast Boxers Michael Conlon and Paddy Barnes, two of the 20 local athletes who competed in the 2012 Olympic Games pictured at a reception in Titanic Belfast after arriving home from London today.
Belfast boxer Michael Conlon who competed in the 2012 Olympic Games pictured at a reception in Titanic Belfast after arriving home from London yesterday
Belfast boxers Michael Conlon and Paddy Barnes, two of the 20 local athletes who competed in the 2012 Olympic Games pictured at a reception in Titanic Belfast after arriving home from London yesterday
Belfast boxers Michael Conlon and Paddy Barnes, two of the 20 local athletes who competed in the 2012 Olympic Games pictured at a reception in Titanic Belfast after arriving home from London yesterday
Paddy Barnes, right, and Michael Conlan attended a celebratory ceremony in Belfast on Monday
Paddy Barnes poses with his bronze medal
Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin with Ireland's medal winning boxers John Joe Nevin, Katie Taylor, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan and their coaches
Michael Conlan with his bronze medal at the medal ceremony for the Olympic Games at the ExCeL, London
Fireworks during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic games, London PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
RETRANSMITTED CORRECTING BYLINEA general view as the fireworks signal the end of the London 2012 Olympics at packed Olympic Stadium in Stratford east London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: John Stillwell/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks light up the sky over the Olympic Stadium and the Orbit during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Olympic Flame is extinguished during the London Olympic Games 2012 Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. RESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story Olympics . Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Olympic Stadium in London for the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Olympic flame is lowered The London Olympic Games 2012 Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday 12 August 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The London Olympic Games 2012 Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. RESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story Olympics . Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Duchess of Cambridge with Prince Harry by her side the end of the London 2012 Olympics at packed Olympic Stadium in Stratford east London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: John Stillwell/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks over the Olympic Stadium and Orbit during the closing ceremony at the Olympic Park PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
RETRANSMITTED CORRECTING BYLINEA general view as the fireworks during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics at packed Olympic Stadium in Stratford east London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: John Stillwell/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
A general view as the fireworks during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics at packed Olympic Stadium in Stratford east London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: Tim Ireland/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Olympic Flame is lowered during the London Olympic Games 2012 Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. RESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story Olympics . Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Olympic Flame is lowered during the London Olympic Games 2012 Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. RESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story Olympics . Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Olympic Flame is lowered during the London Olympic Games 2012 Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. RESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story Olympics . Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic games, London PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks light up the sky over the Olympic Stadium and the Orbit during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Dancers from Brazil perform during the London Olympic Games 2012 Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. RESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story Olympics . Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Dancers from Brazil perform during the London Olympic Games 2012 Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. RESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story Olympics . Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Dancers from Brazil perform during the London Olympic Games 2012 Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. RESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story Olympics . Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Dancing street sweeper Renato Sorriso of Brazil performs during the London Olympic Games 2012 Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. RESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story Olympics . Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Dancers from Brazil perform during the London Olympic Games 2012 Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. RESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story Olympics . Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
London Mayor Boris Johnson (left) hands the Olympic Flag to IOC President Jacques Rogge during the Olympic Games Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London
Entertainment during the Olympic Games Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
To mark the end of the London 2012 Olympic Games, EDF Energy have lit up the EDF Energy London Eye, County Hall and Shell Building on London's Southbank. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. There will continue to be a nightly lightshow on the EDF Energy London Eye throughout the Paralympics (29 August Ð 9 September 2012); powered by London 2012 tweets, the lightshow on the landmark reflects how positive the nation is feeling about the Paralympic Games www.edfenergyofthenation.com Photo credit should read: Matt Alexander/PA Wire
The closing ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics at the Olympic Stadium in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: Tim Ireland/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
A general view the Spice Girls performing at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics at packed Olympic Stadium in Stratford east London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: John Stillwell/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Musician Annie Lennox performs during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: A general view of the Olympic Cauldron during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: George Michael performs during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Band One Direction perform during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: A general view of the stadium during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Suggs and Madness perform during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Dancers perform during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: The flags of the competing nations are paraded through the stadium during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Lee Thompson of Madness performs during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: A general view of the Victoria park and the BT observation wheel close to the Olympic park during the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games on August 12, 2012 in London, England. Athletes, heads of state and dignitaries from around the world have gathered in the Olympic Stadium for the closing ceremony of the 30th Olympiad. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Athletes gather in the centre of the stadium during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: The Olympic Cauldron burns in front of the Olympic rings during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Actor Timothy Spall plays the part of Winston Churchill during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Model Lily Cole poses during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Victoria Beckham of the Spice Girls performs during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Geri Halliwell of Spice Girls performs during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Musician Jessie J performs during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Taio Cruz performs during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Russell Brand performs during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Jessie J performs during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Musician Annie Lennox performs during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: A general view of the stadium during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: The France team parade through the stadium during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: British supermodel Lily Donaldson during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: The France team parade throught he stadium during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Model Kate Moss performs during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
The Spice Girls perform during the Olympic Games Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Spice Girls perform during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic games, London PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, on the final day of the London 2012 Olympics. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Pet Shop Boys perform during The London Olympic Games 2012 Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday 12 August 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Mods during the Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, on the final day of the London 2012 Olympics. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Norman Cook a.k.a. Fatboy Slim performs during the London Olympic Games 2012 Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. RESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story Olympics . Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
George Michael performs during the London Olympic Games 2012 Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. RESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story Olympics . Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Eric Idle performs during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim performs during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim performs during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Melanie Chisholm of The Spice Girls performs during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Emma Bunton of The Spice Girls performs during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Melanie Brown of The Spice Girls during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images)
Flag bearers during the Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, on the final day of the London 2012 Olympics. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Victoria Beckham of The Spice Girls performs during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic games, London PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Russell Brand performs during the London Olympic Games 2012 Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. RESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story Olympics . Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Liam Gallagher performs during the Olympic Games Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Liam Gallagher performs during the Olympic Games Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
A human cannonball performs during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic games, London PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
**EDITORS PLEASE NOTE A TILT SHIFT LENS HAS BEEN USED** The Olympic Stadium in London for the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Madness perform at The Olympic Stadium in London for the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Pet Shop Boys perform The Olympic Stadium in London for the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Geri Halliwell (right) and Victoria Beckham of the Spice Girls performs during the Olympic Games Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Spice Girls perform during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic games, London PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 12, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Northern Ireland’s Olympians have secured their highest ever medals tally from any Games — but the joy has been soured for some by the failure to provide a joint public celebration of their achievements.

Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin will host a private function next month to honour the two boxers and three rowers at Stormont, but it will be behind closed doors. Belfast City Council and Coleraine Borough Council have also organised separate events.

However, the failure to provide a joint public celebration has been criticised after the massive outpouring of support for Northern Ireland’s 21 Olympic athletes, who competed for both Team GB and Team Ireland.

Former Irish rugby international Trevor Ringland said: “It would be a nice idea to publicly celebrate all our young people who competed in the Olympics.”

Mr Ringland, a noted campaigner against sectarianism and a former Ulster Unionist politician, added: “We all felt tremendous pride from their performances — they were representing us and it would be great if the public could be given the chance to show their appreciation to these great ambassadors.”

It has been left to two local councils to publicly mark our medal winners’ success.

Belfast City Council organised an open-top bus ride through the centre of the city today, with crowds turning out to welcome home Olympic boxers Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan. On Wednesday afternoon Coleraine Borough Council is inviting the public to The Diamond at the Town Hall to see Alan Campbell and the Chambers brothers Richard and Peter with their medals.

Belfast boxers Barnes and Conlan, rowers Campbell and the Chambers bring home a total of five medals — two more than Northern Ireland’s previous biggest haul at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956.

North Antrim MLA Jim Allister is also questioning the Sports Minister’s decision to exclude the public from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure’s celebrations.

“I certainly do not see why the event should be behind closed doors,” he said.

The chairwoman of the Assembly's culture, arts and leisure committee, Michelle McIlveen, said it is important that Northern Ireland's Olympians are publicly recognised.

“Everyone will want to see the achievements of our medal winners recognised.

“The Sports Minister has announced a reception but I believe we should also investigate the possibility for an event where the public can show their appreciation to the local stars,” she said.

Northern Ireland’s most famous Olympian, Dame Mary Peters, still fondly recalls her public homecoming parade 40 years ago after her success in the pentathlon when thousands of well-wishers lined the streets of Belfast.

“I remember it very well. I had been brought down Royal Avenue in an open-top lorry. It was at the height of the Troubles and people were throwing confetti out of the windows.”

The Sports Minister has defended her decision to host a private reception.

Minister Ni Chuilin said: “What we plan to do in September is to host a reception for all the Olympians in Parliament Buildings to pay tribute to the athletes. There are going to be quite a lot of athletes there with their families. It’s not open to the public.”

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph