By Tom Degun at the Main Press Centre on the Olympic Park in London 

Jason Smyth_26-08-12August 26 - Setanta Sports, who will be broadcasting the London 2012 Paralympics in Ireland, has announced it will be showing over 70 hours live coverage from the Games and on a free to air basis, which is more than ever before.

Setanta's coverage will be focused primarily on the Irish athletes at the Paralympics, such as visually impaired sprint star Jason Smyth (pictured above), and will include 73 hours of live coverage in addition to many more hours of highlights.

The announcement is a major boost for Paralympic fans in Ireland after there was no live coverage available to Irish viewers at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics where Smyth won the 100 and 200 metres double in the T13 category and Michael McKillop claimed gold in the T37 800m. 

All the coverage will be on the Setanta Ireland channel and hosted by Stephen Cullinane.

He will headline a panel of Irish Paralympians and Olympians, including Athens 2004 Paralympic bronze medallist in the T38 800 metres Derek Malone and London 2012 Olympians Melanie Nocher, Olive Loughnane and Barry Murphy, to commentate and provide analysis.

Athletics commentators will be Martin Gillingham and Pierce O'Callaghan, cycling commentators will be Declan Quigley and Hugh Byrne, while Will Downing will be commentating on swimming.

setanta sport_26-08-12
"We are delighted to be showing the Games on a free to air basis and we are making every effort to show as many of the Irish performances as possible," said Setanta Sports marketing director Brian Quinn.

"Our ambition is to have the widest possible audience tuning in to get behind Team Ireland.

"To achieve this, Setanta are not charging subscriptions to watch the Games so anyone switching on Channel 423 on SKY or Channel 105 on UPC will be able to view for free.

"I have been lucky enough to spend some time with the athletes over the past couple of months and their focus and determination is inspirational.

"We wish them well and look forward to watching them achieve their ambitions.

"We are also very grateful to Paralympics Ireland sponsor Allianz Ireland who were instrumental in enabling us to show so many hours of live coverage."

Setanta's live coverage starts on August 29 at 19:30 with a three hour broadcast of the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford and continues every day through to the Closing Ceremony on September 9.

London 2012 Paralympic host broadcaster Channel 4 is also running extensive live coverage in Ireland although unlike Setanta, they will not be focusing specifically on the Irish athletes.

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