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Belfast’s nurses granted ‘freedom of the city’

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The nurses of Belfast, past and present, have been granted the “freedom of the city” in honour of their work.

The honour, bestowed upon a valued member or organisation with the community, has been granted to all nurses who have either worked or trained within the boundary of the City of Belfast.

The move harks back to the medieval practice of granting respected citizens freedom from serfdom, though today it is essentially ceremonial and confers no special privileges.

At a ceremony last month, Lord Mayor of Belfast Arder Carson paid tribute to the outstanding contribution that the nursing profession had made down through the years.

He said: “The granting of the freedom of the city of Belfast is the greatest honour which Belfast City Council can bestow on any person or organisation.

“It is our city’s formal expression of thanks to those who have made such a positive contribution to everyday life,” he said.

“It gives me great pleasure to pay tribute to nurses in all parts of our city who are held in the highest esteem by the people of Belfast,” he added.

Nurses were chosen by ballot to attend the gala ceremony at Belfast City Hall on 25 May.

The Royal College of Nursing’s director for Northern Ireland, Janice Smyth, signed the Honorary Burgess book as part of the formal proceedings marking the freedom of the city to Belfast nurses.

The last freedom ceremony to be held in Belfast was in March 2015 for poet Michael Longley.

Previous recipients have included musician Van Morrison in November 2013 and Dame Mary Peters in May 2013.

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