The Independent Parent: Your questions answered

Where can we get tickets to the Special Olympics?

QAs parents of a sport-mad daughter with a disability, we were interested to learn that the Special Olympics take place in Ireland this summer. Would it be possible for us to take her to some of the events, and if so, how do we book tickets?

M Shaw, Reading

AThe Special Olympic World Games are held every four years, a year before the Olympic Games. This year is special, as it is the first time that the event has been held outside the US. The games will take place in and around Dublin between 21 and 29 Junee 2003. A visit should prove a worthwhile and enjoyable trip for all of you. Ireland is going to huge lengths to ensure that it's a success. Individuals with learning disabilities will be competing in everything from athletics to volleyball, and there will be demonstrations of kayaking, judo and pitch-and-putt. About 500,000 visitors from Ireland and abroad are expected to attend.

The swimming events at the National Aquatics Centre and athletics at the Morton Stadium are likely to draw large crowds. The organisers also recommend a visit to the Festival Village at the Simmonscourt Pavilion, part of the Royal Dublin Society grounds in Ballsbridge. Open from 22 to 28 June, 9.30am to 5.30pm, it will feature a daily cultural and artistic programme including theatre, music, street performers and storytellers.

Tickets to all the events are free and available at the grounds on the day. A free shuttle bus linking the different sports venues throughout the city is being laid on. Tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies on 21 and 29 June at Dublin's main stadium, Croke Park, should be available online from the end of March, on a first come, first served basis. The organisers are not sure yet whether they will be free, so keep an eye on www.2003specialolympics.com to guarantee your tickets.

Dublin is great to visit at any time, so there will be plenty to do if you feel like a break from sports.

Dublin Tourism (00 353 1 605 7700; www.visitdublin.com) can offer lots of suggestions. It also offers a comprehensive selection of accommodation and a booking service, although you would be wise to book as soon as possible as availability will diminish closer to the games.

The official accommodation website for the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games (00 353 1 280 2641; www.ovation.ie/html/families.htm) can help you to choose and book the best accommodation for your stay. Bewley's Hotel (00 353 1 668 1111; www.bewleyshotels.com), Merrion Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, next door to the Royal Dublin Society, offers good value for families, with rooms for up to two adults and three children costing €99 (£66) excluding breakfast. The hotel also has disabled access.

Ryanair (0871 246 0000; www.ryanair.com) is now offering flights from London Gatwick to Dublin from £70 return per adult, for departures on 20 June. Aer Lingus (0845 084 4444; www.aerlingus.com), one of the major sponsors of the games, has flights from London Heathrow to Dublin (handier for you) from £82 return per adult and £75 per child (aged two to 11). You might also try British Midland (0870 607 0555; www.flybmi.com).

Full details of the games, including the locations of all events, are available on www.2003specialolympics.com – and you can telephone for information on 00 353 1 869 1666.

Who knows, a visit this year might even inspire your daughter to take part in future games.

QWe are booked to fly from London to Tel Aviv on British Airways, taking our daughters to see their grandparents for Passover – flying out on 13 April and back on 27 April. BA has cancelled all flights to Tel Aviv indefinitely. We are determined to go, but will BA give us our money back on fixed-date tickets without a fuss? And is El Al continuing to fly, despite the Iraq situation?

Sarah Gold, London

AFollowing advice from the Foreign Office, BA has indeed stopped flying to Israel. However, the airline is offering a full refund on any tickets, including fixed-date discounted tickets. The airline will also "re-protect" you (transfer your booking) to another airline. The obvious one is El Al, which also flies from Heathrow Terminal 1. El Al is willing to accept BA tickets, but the ticket must be reissued by BA, not your travel agent.

El Al (020-7957 4100; www.elal.co.il) currently flies 13 times a week from the UK (12 flights from Heathrow and one from Stansted) and has no plans to reduce or cancel their schedules unless advised to do so by the Israeli security forces. El Al managed to maintain a normal service throughout the Gulf War in 1991, and plans to do so again.

As for the wisdom of travelling to Israel at the moment, the Foreign Office is strongly advising against it. Its website ( www.fco.gov.uk), where you can check for updates on its travel advice to any country, states: "There is a risk of an attack against Israel from Iraq in the event of hostilities. This might involve chemical and biological weapons.

"We therefore advise against travel to Israel and Jerusalem. If you are already there, you should leave as soon as possible unless your presence is essential."

If you choose to go despite the FO's advice, be warned that flying on El Al to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport is a stressful process at the best of times, with intense questioning of all passengers at both ends of the journey. With the prospect of attacks on Israel, the atmosphere is likely to be distressing for young children.

If you would still like to take your daughters on a Passover holiday, which coincides with the school Easter holidays, alternative kosher destinations are, of course, available. You could contact specialist travel agents such as Totally Jewish Travel (020-7692 6929; www.totallyjewishtravel.com), which offers worldwide trips for the religious period – everything from a tour through Jewish Spain to Passover at Walt Disney World, Florida.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Estates Contracts & Leases Manager

    £30000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Estates Team of this group ...

    Guru Careers: Brand Manager / Marketing Campaign Manager

    COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Brand Manager / Marketing Campaign Manager is req...

    Day In a Page

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future