Saturday, 10 August 2013

We are all winners after a successful World Police and Fire Games – Ní Chuilín

Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has attended the Closing Ceremony of the World Police and Fire Games at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast.
The event brings to a close the competition, which saw 7,000 athletes from 67 countries take part in 56 sports at 41 venues across the north.
The Minister said: “The Closing Ceremony officially lowers the curtain on a remarkable 10 days in the north. It is appropriate to look back on an event the like of which we have never seen before. That we could host the World Police and Fire Games might have been unimaginable a few years ago.
“Yet we have confidently welcomed thousands of competitors from across the globe to join in a sporting spectacular. The Games have further opened the eyes of the world to the north, they have come and experienced the best of what we have to offer. In return, they brought a significant boost to business and tourism in Belfast and beyond.
“The event has also helped open our own eyes to what we can achieve when we work together. We promised the friendliest World Police and Fire Games. The result is Belfast buzzing with visitors and a Games played in the spirit of competition and camaraderie.”
The Minister added that the Games are a shining example of the power of culture, arts and leisure to bring people together.
She said: “What the last ten days have done is reflect a vibrant, confident and forward-looking society. We invited the world to visit the north, thousands of people came and saw our best side – now they are heading home with fond memories.
“This was a collective effort, but that should not take away from the tremendous individual endeavours which have made these Games a success. This has been evident in the build-up and throughout the Games: from the organisers to the volunteers to personnel representing the services; from the sporting officials to the backroom staff who helped deliver the competition.
“Spectators, who have numbered in the tens of thousands, have played their part in creating an atmosphere fitting for such a huge sporting occasion. The feedback from competitors has been overwhelmingly positive, both during the events and away from the venues. Looking ahead, my focus is now on ensuring a long lasting and sustainable legacy from the Games for the people of the North. 
“Everyone can be proud of the World Police and Fire Games 2013. It is a powerful example of what we can achieve when we work in partnership. As Minister I am pleased to acknowledge this and say thank you to all those involvedAll that remains to be said now is best of luck to Fairfax for World Police and Fire Games 2015.”


Ford says we need to build on our progress

If the slogan for 2012 was "Our Time Our Place" then this year we should be shouting "We Can Do It". 

That was the message from Justice Minister David Ford speaking ahead of the closing ceremony for the 2013 World Police and Fire Games. 

The Minister, however, warned that progress made should not be taken for granted and work still needs to be done on a number of issues.

David Ford said: "The image of Northern Ireland has been riding high across the world through our ability to deliver the most peaceful G8 Summit ever and what Mike Graham, President of the WPFG Federation, called both the friendliest and the best World Police and Fire Games. These things do not happen by chance and a lot of people are to be thanked for their efforts. 

"In 2007 it was announced that the games were coming to Northern Ireland and since then Dame Mary Peters, Patron of 2013 WPFG, has been a tireless champion for the Games.

"The board of the company set up to deliver the games was very effectively led by Judith Gillespie, Deputy Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland. I have no doubt Judith is very proud of the successes achieved by her officers across a wide range of sports.

"Delivering 56 sports at 41 venues for around 7000 competitors would not have been possible without the selfless contributions made by over 3000 volunteers who played a massive part in making these the 'friendliest games ever'.

"As minister with responsibility for the police and prison services I thank all those officers, serving and retired, who participated and made our visitors welcome. The people of Northern Ireland also opened their hearts and came out in their thousands to watch very varied and exciting competitions.

"I hope that when the competitors return home and are asked about their experiences, their first comments will reflect the positive experiences they had and not the disgraceful violent scenes played out in the very heart of Belfast.

"Those who go out to create trouble on our streets must be sidelined by the greater majority, who have shown they will support new things, such as the Games. There can be no excuses for attacking police officers, who for too many years have put themselves forward to protect our community. Northern Ireland has moved on and troublemakers need to realise that fact. Actions by some cannot be used by others as an excuse for lawbreaking. 

"Those of us in politics have an obvious role in showing mature leadership, talking through the difficult issues and coming up with solutions that can help deliver a truly shared future. Next month, as we begin all-party talks, that will be a challenge we must meet and overcome. The progress made in many areas over recent years must be used as a solid foundation for moving ahead not squandered over disputes where no-one wins." 

Ford condemns Belfast violence

Justice Minister David Ford has said there can be no excuses for the violence during which 26 police officers were injured.

David Ford said: "Violence is wrong and no cause, no dispute, no disagreement can justify it. The scenes of loyalist protesters attacking the police service will quickly replace the positive images many have worked hard to deliver in recent weeks.  

"Some individuals and groups may not agree with determinations from the Parades Commission, but they do have the weight of the law behind them. Until we come up with an alternative way to deal with contentious parades the police are required to put themselves in the front line to uphold those determinations. 

"There were no winners last night, but I know there will be losers amongst the retailers and communities directly affected. I am confident that over the coming days and weeks those involved in the violence will be the main losers as the police begin gathering evidence and carrying out arrests.    

"I thank the officers who were on duty in Belfast and send my best wishes to those injured."