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Major-winning trio being teed up for freedom honour

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy
Graeme McDowell
Darren Clarke

By Christopher Leebody

Northern Ireland's three Major-winning golfers could be honoured with the Freedom of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough after a vote tomorrow.

A motion proposed by the DUP's Aaron Callan and seconded by Mark Fielding is to be considered at a special council meeting.

The honorary status would be in recognition of the significant sporting success Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke have had on the world stage - as well as acknowledging their roles as ambassadors in bringing the 148th Open Championship to Royal Portrush last month.

The citation in the proposal states: "Thanks to their efforts, they have made our borough the number one destination for golf in the world and with their support we have seen the Irish Open come to our area in 2012 and 2017 and The Open to Royal Portrush in 2019." Mr Callan said he put forward the proposal "in recognition of the work that has gone in by the three individuals".

"Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy have all contributed a lot to promote NI and our area for golf and as a place to come and visit and all have been outstanding ambassadors for Northern Ireland," he added.

"They played a big role in helping bring the 148th Open to Royal Portrush, so I am pleased to propose they receive the highest honour the council can give an individual."

Asked about the chances of the proposal being passed, he said: "I think it should go through. I don't think there should be much opposition to it.

"The general indication is that people are happy to support it.

"People recognise the need to celebrate and promote our area."

Last month's successful tournament, won by the Republic's Shane Lowry, was praised widely, with record crowds in attendance.

There are estimates that it could generate up to £120m for Northern Ireland's economy.

The meeting to discuss the proposal is to be held at 7pm tomorrow in the council chamber in Coleraine.

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