Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Liam Neeson: A star so impressed by change in Northern Ireland

Liam Neeson has praised his home town and Northern Ireland for “coming out of the darkness”.

The decision to grant Neeson the Freedom of Ballymena was agreed unanimously by the council last November, 12 years after a previous attempt to award the film star the honour.

Back then he turned it down after DUP councillors objected to the proposal because of alleged derogatory remarks attributed to Neeson about his experiences growing up in the Co Antrim town. On Monday he said of that decision.

“They were different times, just different times, and luckily we have moved on,” he said.

“If it did not change I don't think I would be sitting here.”

Neeson said despite moving to America in the 1980s he has kept a close eye on developments both in Ballymena and Northern Ireland as a whole.

“I am aware of the work the borough has been doing the past few years, coming out of the darkness as we all have and hopefully left all that behind us — new days, new times — and I am just privileged to receive this,” the star said.

“While no longer living in Ballymena I am a frequent visitor and I have seen myself a positive change. I congratulate you. It is terrific, long may it continue.”

Neeson said he would continue to promote Northern Ireland around the world.

Those at the ceremony included former Police Ombudsman Dame Nuala O'Loan, Health Minister Edwin Poots, North Antrim MP Ian Paisley jnr, and Stormont ministers Alex Attwood and Caral Ni Chuilin.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nightlife Galleries

More

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz