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Unsung heroes to be Northern Ireland bearers of Olympic flame

Northern Ireland’s unsung heroes are being called to take part in the London 2012 Olympics as part of the local torch relay route.

Teachers, carers and community workers have been invited to join the Games as official torch-bearers when the flame reaches our shores next year.

The historic torch is due to arrive in Northern Ireland in June 2012 as part of an 8,000-mile journey around 74 destinations in the UK.

It will tour the north coast of Portrush before taking in sights in Londonderry, Newry and finishing with a spectacular celebration in Belfast city centre.

Schoolchildren from Belmont Primary School in Co Antrim joined local sporting personalities at Belfast City Hall yesterday for the official launch of the route.

Bill Morris, director of culture, ceremonies and education at London 2012, said visiting the four locations would give Northern Ireland “a chance to shine”.

“We wanted places that really epitomise a country and speak to the rest of the world about what Northern Ireland has to offer,” he said. “When the flame lights up, it’s a simple thing but it means so much — it brings with it all the history of the Olympics.

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“There is so much to offer — great cities, scenery, a sense of community welcome — and it really will be the highlight of the relay.”

The relay will kick off at Land’s End and continue around the UK for 70 days before arriving in London for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is also looking at the possibility of the torch going to Dublin for a day.

Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin said the next step of planning the route was to select local torch-bearers to carry the flame.

“Torch-bearers should be inspirational people who make a real difference in their locality,” she said.

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