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Northern Ireland parade honours Irish Guards

By Catherine Lynagh

Hundreds of spectators turned out on the streets of Newtownards and Castlereagh at the weekend to welcome home the Irish Guards after their tour of Afghanistan.

The parades and civic receptions followed members of the Royal Irish Regiment and Irish Guards parading in front of an invited audience at the King's Hall, Belfast, on Friday.

The homecoming parade in Belfast went ahead despite a bomb alert outside the venue by those opposed to the event.

On Saturday, soldiers from 16 Air Assault Brigade marched through Newtownards after a service at St Mark's Church before attending a civic reception.

Lt Col Christopher Ghika said the reception was “overwhelming”.

“I think it has been a great thing we have been looking forward to, wonderful,” he said.

Ards Mayor Mervyn Oswald called the event an “opportunity for local people to show their support publicly for the Irish Guards who have a long association with this borough and who performed to the highest standards during their tour of duty”.

Yesterday the homecoming continued in Castlereagh with more than 200 soldiers parading through the streets before a civic reception.

They marched to the council’s civic centre at 1pm where they received a special medallion. Castlereagh Mayor Jim White said it was a “great privilege for the council to acknowledge the professionalism and dedication of the Irish Guards”.

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