Thousands turn out as Olympic torch starts five-day tour of Ireland

Olympic torch carried past Stormont Government buildings in  Northern Ireland

A five day relay of the Olympic torch in Northern Ireland kicked off in Belfast on Sunday, amid thousands of cheering spectators.

According to BBC News the flame travelled 126 miles through 21 communities between Belfast and Portrush yesterday, on the first day of the five day tour.

Police in Northern Ireland warned of extra security to deter any disruptions of the event from dissident republicans.

A volunteer with St Vindic's Parish Church, Karen Marshall (31) was the first torchbearer when the tour began at Belfast Titanic Centre at 06:06 BST.

Thousands of people turned out in Belfast as the torch took a number of landmarks including Stormont, home of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and Carrickfergus Castle.

Speaking about the occasion Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: "I think people are exhilarated to be part of an event that's one of the greatest competitions in the world and to be part of a little bit of history."

On Wednesday, Dublin will become the only country outside or Greece and the UK to host the Olympic Flame.

Over 40 torchbearers will  take part six hour tour that will include a cross border ceremony, a civic event, a run on the Skyline in Croke Park and a relay around Dublin.

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