Liam Neeson accepts freedom of Ballymena

Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson

One of the world’s best loved actor has accepted the freedom of Ballymena, 12 years after turning the honour down amid controversy.

Liam Neeson said in 2000 that he didn’t feel it would be appropriate to accept, after several DUP councillor opposed offering him the honour of his hometown because of negative comments he had allegedly made about growing up in Ballymena.

However on Monday night Ballymena council voted unanimously to re-offer Mr Neeson the honour.

And this time the Star Wars actor has accepted.

Speaking from his home in New York, Liam Neeson said he was honoured and delighted to accept this prestigious award.

“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.”

Mayor of Ballymena Borough Council, PJ McAvoy said: “I am absolutely delighted that my colleagues have unanimously agreed to offer what is a very significant honour to Liam Neeson. This is the highest accolade that a Council can bestow on one of its citizens.”

The honorary award is granted to individuals or groups who have distinguished themselves through their work or efforts, or to recognise the respect and high esteem in which they are held by the people of Ballymena.

Leader of the DUP grouping Councillor Tommy Nicholl said “I am delighted that Liam will be honoured in this way and take his place alongside the other three individuals that were awarded Freeman of this Borough – Lord Bannside, Dr Syd Millar and Sandy Spence”.