Northern Ireland

WPFG 'best and friendliest ever', says president of games

The closing ceremony has been taking place in Belfast
Image caption The closing ceremony has been taking place in Belfast

This year's World Police and Fire Games in Northern Ireland have been hailed the friendliest and best games ever.

Mike Graham, WPFG Federation president, was speaking at the games' closing ceremony at Belfast's Titanic slipways.

It was the final element in the two week festival which took place in 41 venues with almost 7,000 competitors from 67 countries.

Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said the games had brought a significant boost to business and tourism.

The minister said the closing ceremony - which began with a fly past by the Red Arrows - had officially "lowered 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," she said.

"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.

Image caption A fly past by the Red Arrows marked the beginning of the ceremony

"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."

The closing ceremony featured music from the Open Arts Choir, the PSNI Pipe Band and the Northern Virginia Firefighters Emerald Society Pipe Band.

A special tribute was paid to the 3,500 volunteers known as the 'spirit of the games' for their friendly and enthusiastic contribution.

The formalities included a parade of flags from the participating countries, the handing over of the WPFG flag to next host city, Fairfax, and the final journey of the Flame of Hope.

Mike Graham of the WPFG said: "The 2013 World Police and Fire Games have been the friendliest and best games ever."

He added: "The organisation and professionalism of the WPFG delivery team has been exemplary, the warmth and welcome of the many thousand volunteers has been outstanding, the support of the local people has been second to none and even the weather has been fabulous.

"The WPFG Federation is absolutely delighted with what has been the pinnacle of our games to date and we are indebted to Belfast and Northern Ireland for making it happen."

Deputy Chief Constable and Chair of the 2013 WPFG Board, Judith Gillespie, said the games were a prime example of why Northern Ireland was "renowned for its warm and friendly welcome".

"I feel very proud, of all of our serving and retired colleagues as they stood shoulder to shoulder with fire service and prison service colleagues in Team Northern Ireland.

"But I am also extremely proud to have been part of this wonderful event that has brought such colour, vibrancy and enjoyment to so many and which I hope will leave a lasting legacy for Northern Ireland for many years to come."

Lord Mayor of Belfast Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said the benefits for Belfast were enormous.

"The success of these games has been particularly significant for Belfast as the host city," he said.

"This was an amazing opportunity for us to showcase our world class facilities and venues.

"We rolled out the welcome mat and - having spoken to so many visitors here for the games - I am confident that they will now spread the word about what we have to offer and the good experiences they have enjoyed."

Image caption The World Police and Fire Games took place over two weeks Northern Ireland

More on this story

Around the BBC