Homecoming parade held for soldiers
Published 07/10/2011 | 18:42
A military homecoming parade has been held in Belfast.
Hundreds of soldiers from the Irish Guards and Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) marched in front of an invited audience during the King's Hall event.
At the last homecoming parade in Belfast in 2008, police in riot gear kept opposing crowds apart. The policing bill came to almost £500,000.
The Ministry of Defence turned down an initial offer from Belfast City Council for a parade through the city.
The council's decision in April to approve the homecoming parade was opposed by the SDLP and Sinn Fein. But the offer was not accepted, with the MoD blaming "post-operational duties".
Up to 3,500 members of the public attended the review and service. The Irish Guards and RIR served together as part of 16 Air Assault Brigade in Afghanistan.
More than 1,500 members of the RIR returned from a tour of Afghanistan in April.
Three soldiers from the 1st Battalion were killed during the operation, which began last September.
Ranger Aaron McCormick, 22, from Macosquin in County Londonderry was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in November last year.
Ranger David Dalzell, 20, from Bangor was shot in February. Lance Corporal Stephen McKee, 27, from Banbridge, was killed by an IED in March.