07/10/2011

Alert Fails To Halt Combat Soldiers' Welcome

Military personnel from the 1st Battalion Irish Guards and 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment are in Northern Ireland for a number of key events this weekend with a parade and display taking place this afternoon.

Despite a bomb alert near the King's Hall venue earlier, the event to honour troops who have returned from Afghanistan is running on schedule.

Earlier, some roads were closed due to the alert in the grounds of a bar on the Lisburn Road - but are open again after Army bomb experts dealt with a suspicious package.

At 3pm, hundreds of soldiers from the Irish Guards and Royal Irish Regiment paraded in front of a ticket-only audience during the event which included a Military Review and Drumhead Service - all hosted by Belfast City Council.

The Council is hosting the event in recognition of the service of the Irish Guards and the Royal Irish Regiment in Afghanistan with around 300 military personnel participating in the Review with some 3,500 members of the public attending.
News Image
The event will also include the presentation of commemorative medallions to military personnel by Belfast's Deputy Lord Mayor, Alderman Ruth Patterson - herself a former UDR soldier.

A musical programme and exhibition of armoured vehicles also ran from 2pm at designated areas within the grounds.

Additionally, the Irish Guards will be taking part in a Church Service, Parade and Civic Reception hosted by Ards Borough Council as well as a Parade and Civic Reception hosted by Castlereagh Borough Council - on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

Elements of The Irish Guards will also be visiting a number of other locations across NI during their visit.

Sadness

As well as being a celebration, it is also a remembrance as while more than 1,500 members of the Royal Irish Regiment returned from a tour of Afghanistan in April, three soldiers from the 1st Battalionmwere killed during the operation, which began last September.

Ranger Aaron McCormick, 22, from Macosquin in County Londonderry was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in November last year.

Ranger David Dalzell, 20, from Bangor was shot in February. The exact circumstances of his death have not yet been confirmed.

Lance Corporal Stephen McKee, 27, from Banbridge, was killed by an IED in March.‪

(BMcC/GK)

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