Liam Neeson accepts Ballymena honour

Published Tuesday, 06 November 2012
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Hollywood star Liam Neeson has accepted the highest honour that can be bestowed on him by his hometown of Ballymena - the Freedom of the Borough.

Liam Neeson accepts Ballymena honour
Ballymena man utrned Hollywood star, Liam Neeson. (© Getty)

The 60-year-old actor was born and raised in the Co Antrim town, where he attended St Patrick's school and learned to box at local club All Saints.

Speaking from his New York home, Liam said he was delighted to accept the accolade.

"Enormous strides have been made in my native Northern Ireland in the past decade, demonstrated by political, social and economic changes that came about through a combination of courage, generosity and persistence," he said.

The council unanimously backed the proposal, made on Monday night by SDLP Mayor PJ McAvoy.

"I am absolutely delighted that my colleagues have unanimously agreed to offer what is a very significant honour to Liam Neeson," he said.

He is a worldwide star and the best known Ballymena man in the world.

PJ McAvoy, Mayor of Ballymena

The DUP's Tommy Nicholl, leader of his party's grouping on the council, also welcomed the move.

"I believe this is a proud day for Ballymena - I'm delighted that Liam will be honoured in this way," he said.

With a huge string of acclaimed films - including Schindler's List - under his belt, Liam Neeson has in recent years become something of an unlikely action star.

After making appearances in both the Star Wars and Batman franchises, he went on to star as ex-CIA man and vengeful dad Bryan Mills in the hugely popular Taken.

But even before all that, back in 2000, a previous proposal to grant the Freedom of the Borough was put to Ballymena Council.

Members of the DUP voted against the plans, over comments made by the actor in a magazine interview in America about negative experiences he had growing up as a Catholic in Ballymena.

The Freedom of Ballymena Borough has only previously been given to three other people - former First Minister Ian Paisley, rugby legend Syd Millar and former mayor of Ballymena Sandy Spence.

The honour is expected to be formally awarded to Liam Neeson in a ceremony next year.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
8 Comments
Steffan in Belfast wrote (621 days ago):
Deserved it for his cameo performance in 'Lifes Too Short' alone :O)
jimmymac in canada wrote (622 days ago):
Barry, sorry if your offended of my use of the word ' wee North' but please, try not to lose sleep over it
Barry in Broughshane wrote (622 days ago):
Also Jimmymac in Canada congratulations on the reelection of you president Obama.
Barry in Broughshane wrote (622 days ago):
Well done Liam,Glad to see you get this award. Jimmymac, is this wee north you talk about Donegal?? As the most northern part of Donegal is more northern than Northern Ireland.
Jim in Norway in North Sea wrote (622 days ago):
Excellent, a credit to Ballymena and the rest of the country.
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