Belfast Telegraph

Freedom honour for TA soldiers

Territorial Army soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are to be given the Freedom of North Down.

The honour, the highest any local authority can bestow, will be conferred on troops from 591 Independent Engineer Squadron (RE) during a parade in Bangor this Saturday.

Major Kevin Thomas, Officer Commanding of the Bangor-based unit, said the award would be accepted on behalf of all TA soldiers across Northern Ireland who had served over the years.

"These are men and women who have given their spare time, their talents and their enthusiasm often at cost to themselves and family, so that they can work for peace for all people.

"It is a very fitting and appropriate gesture by North Down Borough Council on behalf of everyone in the community and we are exceptionally grateful," he said.

TA soldiers have played a key role in the war in Afghanistan, working alongside regular Army colleagues during gruelling six-month stints in the desert war zone.

Wesley Irvine, mayor of Bangor, said: "I find the sheer dedication and commitment of the brave men and women of the Territorial Army to be quite inspiring.

"I am greatly honoured and proud to be in office on this momentous occasion when the council has conferred the Freedom of the Borough on the men and women of the Territorial Army.

"It is, of course, a very special privilege for any mayor to participate in a Freedom of the Borough ceremony since they occur so infrequently. "

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