Mid & East Antrim Council has unanimously agreed to confer the Freedom of the Borough upon the Northern Ireland Football Team and their manager, Michael O’Neill.
A notice of motion by TUV Bannside Alderman Stewart McDonald proposing conferment of the top civic honour was successfully put to last night’s (Monday) July monthly meeting of Mid & East Antrim Council in The Braid.
It read: “This Council recognises the achievements of the 2016 Northern Ireland Football Team in the European Championships in France this summer. With the Manager Michael O’Neill, Captain Steven Davis, and many of the squad having connections to Mid & East Antrim Borough, it is this Council’s wish to bestow the Freedom of the Borough on the 2016 team”.
Putting it to the meeting, Alderman McDonald said Council should also acknowledge “that community spirit and cohesion has arisen during the qualifying campaign and championship with the Northern Ireland fans being recognised in Paris for their behaviour.
“I ask this Council and every member on it to pay tribute to the Green and White Army of Northern Ireland for their success. To bestow upon them (the team) the Freedom of the borough is the most fitting way to do it,” he said.
Stating that “This Freedom ceremony should be positive and set a new direction reflecting the great encouragement the team have given to their young fans”, the TUV Alderman suggested that it should encorporate a skills training session at the Showgrounds or other venue with ‘young stars’ in the borough taking part in a training session with the current NI team players.
Seconding the motion, Alderman Gregg McKeen: “The bestowment of the borough is the highest civic honour we can bestow on anyone from a council perspective and I think this team really does deserve that”.
He added: “We should be making this a very public orientated freedom bestowment where we can bring in the young people and the supporters of Mid & East Antrim.”