Liam Neeson returns to North to get freedom of Ballymena


Liam Neeson returned to the stage where it all began yesterday as he was granted the freedom of Ballymena.

The Hollywood star of films including Schindler’s List and Michael Collins started out in his home town performing pantomimes with the Slemish Players.

Ballymena Borough Council in Co Antrim rolled out the red carpet amid pomp and ceremony as Neeson said he was still “99.9 per cent Ballymena” in his dedication to hard work.

“I am aware of the work that you have been doing the past few years, coming out of the darkness that we all had and hopefully leaving all that behind us – new days, new times – and I am just privileged to receive this,” Neeson said.

He arrived at the Braid Theatre to be greeted by friends and family, including his mother Kitty.

Neeson was offered the honour in 2000 but turned it down because of a controversy over some comments he had allegedly made about the town.

He said yesterday he regretted the decision to turn down the honour. – (PA)