Freedom for Michael Dunlop in mid January

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Ballymoney’s world class motor bike rider, Michael Dunlop, will be given the freedom of the Borough in mid-January, the Times can exclusively reveal.

We understand that preperations are currently underway to make the 24-year-old biking ace only the fifth person to get the Freedom award and the third member of the Dunlop family after his uncle Joey and his father Robert were also honoured.

Talks have been taking place between Michael and council officers as well as Alderman Bill Kennedy who proposed the motion to confer the Freedom honour at a recent meeting of the council.

“We are anxious to fit in with Michael’s plans for the year and he expressed interest in getting the honour in January,” it was said.

The motion to confer the Freedom of the Borough was read by Alderman Bill Kennedy who proposed: “That the Freedom of the Borough be conferred on Mr Michael Dunlop in recognition of the great honour brought to the Borough through his exceptional skill, ability and determination, in achieving success as an international motorcycling road racer, and winning numerous Irish and Ulster Championships including seven Isle of Man TT wins, with Four victories in one week in 2013.”

Alderman Kennedy, who is himself Clerk of Course for Armoy Road Races also mentioned Michael’s first win in the NW 200 in 2008.

Michael was just 20 when he raced to victory following the death of his father during practice for the same event.

Since then he has dominated the sport and has become an extremely popular figure not only in his home town but also across the country and throughout the mainland.

Armoy Road Races has benefitted from the presence of both Michael and his brother, William, with thousands firmly behind both riders in their own backyard.

Only recently, Dunlop parted company with Honda and at the time of writing had not signed any contracts for 2014. He has hinted that he may take a year out from the sport.