Belfast To Celebrate Returning Heroes

Belfast is to stage two important celebrations soon - one to mark the handover of the Olympic Games from Beijing to London ahead of the 2012 Olympics and another to thank service personnel who have performed in a different way - after tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan

Northern Ireland's Olympic Handover celebrations will take place at the Belfast Mela festival in Botanic Gardens this Sunday (24th August).

London and cities across the UK, including Northern Ireland, are inviting the public to join in the celebrations and mark Belfast's own Olympic victories with celebrations hosted by the multi-cultural festival - which is a free event open for everyone to enjoy a cultural day out of music, food and culture from more than 30 nations.

Belfast Mela will host a 'Big Screen' presentation sponsored by the 2012 London Organising Committee to view the live closing ceremony in Beijing, the handover of the Olympic Flag and fresh celebrations in London.

Northern Ireland will join the rest of the UK in 'Sing the Nation' a short programme of community singing. 

At Belfast's celebrations, the Lord Mayor, Tom Hartley, will be presented with a London 2012 handover flag by children from NI's ethnic communities to mark the beginning of the Province being part of the event.
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Sing the Nation' is working with the Olympics to create the UK's biggest sing-a-long involving community singing sessions in 25 cities from across the UK.

Local choir leader, Stephen McLoughlin from Lisburn will be accompanied by the Armagh Rhymers and performers from the Indian community.

They will sing two regional songs - 'I'll Tell me Ma' and the 'Londonderry Air' ('Danny Boy') followed by a specially arranged national song 'Summer Celebration' which all regions will sing. The final song is an Indian folk song 'Insaaf Kii Dagar Pe'. 

Meanwhile, Belfast City Council's Strategic Policy and Resources Committee aims to discuss the provision of hospitality for members of the armed forces following a Homecoming Parade to St Anne's Cathedral later this year.

East Belfast MLA and the DUP Leader on the Council, Robin Newton said: "This homecoming parade will acknowledge the sacrifices of all three services of the military, including the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR).

"The parade on the 2nd November 2008 will mark the return of the military and I hope that all committee members will be able to support a planned civic reception," he said, noting that while some members of Belfast City Council wanted to see an exclusively RIR parade it was the wish of the military that all three services be acknowledged.

See: Brown Praises 'Olympic' Effort Of British Troops At Camp Bastion


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