THOUSANDS lined the streets of Ballymoney on Saturday to honour the Royal Irish Regiment which was bestowed the Freedom of the Borough.
Soldiers from 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment and 2nd Battalion (Territorials) marched through the town following a special presentation.
It is only the sixth time the Council has conferred the title, which is the highest award a council can give, since 1973.
The formal ceremony took place in the Town Hall attended by the Colonel of the Regiment, Lieutenant General Sir Philip Trousdell who was accompanied by the Deputy Colonel Mark Campbell.
The Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim, Joan Christie, was also present.
Alderman and councillors as well as special guests including Dr Ian Paisley, (Lord Bannside) a recipient of the Freedom of the Borough honour in the year 2000, the MP for North Antrim, Ian Paisley Junior, MLAs and another Honorary Freeman, Molly Holmes, attended the ceremony the basis for which was laid during a council meeting of January 4, 2011 when the motion was passed.
Prince Andrew, Colonel in Chief, sent a special letter of congratulations to the Regiment read out at a luncheon in the Town Hall.
Mayor, councillor Ian Stevenson, said it was a great honour to bestow the Freedom of the Borough on the Regiment.
“We’re so grateful for the service which they have provided,” he explained.
“There have been long-standing links with the Royal Irish Regiment and there are many who have relatives and sons who have served in Afghanistan, etc, within the borough.”
See inside for more.