By Duncan Mackay

David_Cameron_under_Olympic_Stadium_floodlights_December_2010April 27 - Prime Minister David Cameron has been hailed by Patrick Hickey, the President of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI), for his role in helping overcome the obstacles to ensure that next year's Olympic Torch Relay will be able to travel to Dublin on its route to London.

Hickey is due to travel to Lausanne next month to meet with Jacuqes Rogge, the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), to get final approval for the Torch to visit the Irish capital for the first time in its history.

But Hickey claimed that it is thanks to the massive improvement in relations between Britain and Ireland since Cameron became Prime Minister last year that has helped seal the deal.

Key to that has been Cameron apology last June on behalf of Britain for the "unjustified and unjustifiable" shooting dead of 13 civilians by the Army on Bloody Sunday in January 1972 when 13 innocent people on a civil rights march in Londonderry were killed. 

Britain has also been at the forefront of trying to help Ireland recover from its current economy crisis by lending €3.62 million (£3.21 million/$5.37 million) and next month the Queen is due to visit Ireland for the first time on a state visit. 

"There has been extraordinary improvement in the relationships between the two Irelands," Hickey told insidethesgames.

"This didn't happen by accident.

"I don't know if David Cameron is still top of the pops here but he certainly is in Ireland.

"When the Torch moves from Belfast down to the border and across into the Irish Republic I think that will be a great highlight for the Olympic Movement because the torch is the symbol of peace and here it is celebrating peace in the community."

The IOC banned the Torch Relay travelling outside the Olympic host country following the demonstrations that marred the build-up to Beijing in 2008.

But Ireland is a unique situation.

Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom but the OCI has jurisdiction for the Olympics across the whole of the island.

Pat_Hickey_with_Jacques_Rogge_in_DublinThe decision to visit Dublin on the Relay will not be officially announced by London 2012 until next month when the route is unveiled but Hickey (pictured right with Rogge) has been working on the plan for nearly four years now.

"Jacques said to me that first you must get clearance from London," said Hickey, who is also the President of the European Olympic Committees (EOC).

"He said if you get London's approval I don't see a problem getting it ratified, especially as we are celebrating 15 years of peace in Northern Ireland.

"But we had to get all shades of opinion on side in Northern Ireland, not wanting to upset any of the entities.

"That took a few months of working.

"I met with [Northern Ireland] Martin McGuiness, the Deputy Prime Minister, and [London 2012 chairman] Seb [Coe] did his thing.

"He was able to tell me that it was very well received within the Board of LOCOG.

"But, again because of security issues involved, the British Government had to be involved so they had to commit to the scheme.

"The Governments have approved it, LOCOG are very happy with it and will approve it.

"We've got it past all the obstacles now."

Hickey also paid tribute to Sir Craig Reedie, Britain's IOC member who sits on the ruling Executive Board. 

"Craig has been invaluable, being a member of the EB and he's been extremely helpful," he said.

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