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Northern Ireland health workers and support staff given Freedom of the City by Lisburn councillors

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Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council has voted to give health workers and support staff the Freedom of the City

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council has voted to give health workers and support staff the Freedom of the City

PA Wire/PA Images

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council has voted to give health workers and support staff the Freedom of the City

NHS heroes in Northern Ireland will get a council's top honour - and the right to drive sheep through its city centre.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council has voted to give health workers and support staff the Freedom of the City.

The local authority's highest accolade allows the recipient to herd livestock through the town.

DUP councillor James Tinsley, who brought the motion, said health workers had worked tirelessly for "decades and decades".

He said: "I would say there's very few families throughout Northern Ireland who don't have someone in their family involved in healthcare, from cleaners to porters right up to the senior consultant."

He added: "As the clap for the NHS stops this week, the freedom will be a lasting legacy."

The motion was passed unanimously.

It was also suggested to mark the day with a garden party at Hillsborough Castle.

Alliance's Aaron McIntyre spoke of the work of his wife, a doctor, and his cousin - a nurse who just last week tested positive for Covid-19. He said: "Our healthcare professionals have given so much during this crisis; living away from their own families to protect them, working overtime to cover shifts and tragically some have lost their lives treating the most vulnerable.

"Awarding Freedom of the City to the NHS is a small way in which this council can thank our healthcare workers."

Councillor Jim Dillon, who was made a freeman this year, chose to exercise his right as a freeman to herd livestock - and drove a flock of his neighbour's sheep across Jubilee Bridge.

Belfast Telegraph