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Minister hails Paralympics ideals

The lighting of the Paralympic Flame at Northern Ireland's devolved parliament has shone the message of the power of human endeavour and energy, it has been claimed.

A ceremonial cauldron was lit on the grounds of Stormont to launch a regionwide torch relay to mark the Games and spread the message.

Caral Ni Chuilin, Northern Ireland's sports minister, said the ceremony should be about the inspiration of the games.

"Just as with the Olympic Torch relay, the Paralympic Flame festivities in Ireland are a showcase for all that is good and positive about our society," she said.

"Today is about celebrating worthwhile projects and inspirational people while showing support for those from Ireland taking part in the Paralympic Games."

After scouts lit four flames atop the highest peaks of the UK to spark the Paralympics this week, splinters of the fire will now visit communities in Ballymena, Cookstown, Carrickfergus, Londonderry, Lisburn, Newry and Strabane.

The events culminate with a lantern procession in Belfast and Agito, the Paralympic symbol which features the colours of red, blue and green circling around a central point, will be unveiled at the City Hall.

Ms Ni Chuilin said: "The Flame ambassadors who will take the Paralympic Flame to their respective areas are an inspiration in themselves.

"Everyone is encouraged to join in this event and it is important that we spread the Paralympic Games' ideal of human endeavour and energy across Ireland."

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