Council on the ball to honour Euro 2016 qualifying Northern Ireland squad

Celebration time for Northern Ireland, �William Cherry / Presseye
Celebration time for Northern Ireland, �William Cherry / Presseye

The Euro 2016 qualifying Northern Ireland squad are to be given a Mayoral and Civic Reception by Mid & East Antrim Council next Wednesday, November 11.

The majority of councillors were in agreement at their November monthly meeting on Monday night that the squad’s victory over Greece to reach their first major tournament since the 1986 World Cup in Mexico - and their first European Championship finals - was something to be marked, particularly given the number of players who hail from the Mid & East Antrim area.

A majority of 31 members voted in support of the Motion in the name of Councillor Gregg McKeen, seconded by Councillor Cheryl Johnston, which read: “That this Council hosts a civic reception for the Northern Ireland football players and management in light of their outstanding qualification for the European Finals in France next year, giving special recognition to those from Mid and East Antrim Borough for their success”.

Council’s four nationalist councillors did not participate in the voting process.

The majority of members also backed a suggestion from Alderman Tommy Nicholl that tribute be paid in letter form to former vice-principal of Buick Memorial PS in Cullybackey, Tommy Speers, who had coached NI squad member Steven Davis while he was a pupil at the school.

Councillors went on to agree the proposal of Mayor Billy Ashe that Mr Speers would be invited to attend the Mayoral and Civic Reception next Wednesday evening in the Braid when the special guests will be treated to a drinks reception in the Atrium followed by a Civic Banquet in the Theatre.

Speaking afterwards, Ahoghill councillor and stalwart Northern Ireland supporter, Alderman Stewart McDonald said the forthcoming reception was a “fitting tribute” to the team.

“They have done Northern Ireland proud and it is an honour for Mid & East Antrim to host a civic reception to mark what is a truly fantastic achievement. I’m delighted that councillors got behind the Motion that will see us welcoming and honouring the team in Ballymena next week,” he said.