Louis Walsh Attends Inspire Programme Reception

X Factor judge joins Nelson McCausland in celebrating Northern Ireland's participation in the 2012 Games

Music industry mogul Louis Walsh was in Belfast recently to celebrate Northern Ireland’s Olympic and Paralympic-inspired cultural projects that have been awarded the prestigious London 2012 Inspire Mark.

The reception at Stormont Buildings was hosted by Minister for Sports, Arts and Leisure, Nelson McCausland, who made his final speech in the post (watch the video below).

The Inspire Mark is the brand of the Inspire Programme - a UK-wide participation initiative that recognises exceptional and innovative non-commercial projects that have been inspired or energised by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

'Inspire projects are doing an amazing job in Northern Ireland,' Walsh commented. 'As an ambassador for one of them – ImagineAction – I’ve seen first-hand the impact they are having in local communities.'

It is the first time in Olympic and Paralympic history that non-commercial projects have had the opportunity to be officially recognised as being part of the Games.

There are currently 33 Inspire projects in Northern Ireland, across the themes of sport, culture, education, volunteering, business and sustainability. They are delivered by a range of individual artists and organisations, including universities, colleges, charities, community and voluntary organisations, government departments and councils.

Based on projected figures provided by the projects themselves, in Northern Ireland the current projects have combined participation figures of over half a million pounds.

 Speaking at the event, Minister McCausland said: 'We should be incredibly proud of each and every one of our 33 Inspire projects in Northern Ireland and, as the 2012 Games draw closer, this event offers an opportunity to recognise the successes they’ve achieved.

'These projects will leave behind a legacy in the areas of participation in sporting and cultural activities, healthy lifestyles, education and skills development, good relations and community cohesion.'

At the reception, the special guests mingled with representatives from the Inspire projects and their organisations. Boxing legend Barry McGuigan encouraged artists and sportsmen and women of all ages and backgrounds to take part in the London 2012 in any way they can.

'London 2012 is showing that you don’t have to be an athlete to be part of the 2012 Games,' commented the former World Featherweight Champion. 'There are lots of ways of being involved and Northern Ireland’s Inspire projects are offering those opportunities every day.'