Freedom accolade dual honour for councillor

Mid and East Antrim Councillor John Stewart is also a Trooper with B (North Irish Horse) Squadron, Scottish & North Irish Yeomanry.  Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. INCT 03-709-CON
Mid and East Antrim Councillor John Stewart is also a Trooper with B (North Irish Horse) Squadron, Scottish & North Irish Yeomanry. Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye. INCT 03-709-CON

A Carrickfergus councillor has spoken of the dual honour of seeing one of the highest civic accolades bestowed on his squadron at the weekend.

Councillor John Stewart, a Trooper with B (North Irish Horse) Squadron, Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry, was speaking after Mid and East Antrim Council conferred Honorary Freedom of the Borough on the unit during an event in the town on Saturday.

Although his civic duties meant he was unable to be in uniform on the day, Cllr Stewart took part in the full council meeting when the Freedom was officially bestowed.

“It was a huge honour to be there as a councillor for what was the first ever Freedom of the Borough for Mid and East Antrim, but also as a member of the regiment to see it recognised in this way for the many years of service to the people locally and across Northern Ireland,” Cllr Stewart said.

“Speaking to the officers and men of the regiment on the day, I know it was a huge honour for them to be recognised by MEA Borough Council . It was also brilliant to see so many people come out to watch the regiment officially parade as honorary freemen.”

Also attending the service was Colonel Nick Tougher, Assistant Commander of 38 (Irish) Brigade.

The senior officer said: “Winston Churchill said ‘the Reservist is twice the citizen’. The men and women on parade today are exactly that.

“They use their spare time to serve in uniform. The support of their families and employers allows them to contribute in a vital way to the defence of the nation. Many have served overseas in a wide variety of roles; every element of the spectrum from war fighting to training teams to medical support to the Ebola crisis has seen Reserves being involved. In the modern Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, the Army Reserve is indispensable.

“Northern Ireland continues to deliver well above that which might be expected from a relatively small population. The proud tradition of military service continues to run deep in many communities.”