A local politician has been welcomed back to Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council after returning from a period of time in Afghanistan with the Royal Irish Reserves.
Cllr Thomas Hogg MBE returned to the chamber for the August meeting of the local authority after a four-month tour of duty with his colleagues in the Royal Irish Regiment.
The DUP representative, who served as Mayor of the borough between 2014 and 2016, took a period of four months unpaid leave from his council duties.
The Times understands that while in Afghanistan, Thomas participated in Operation Toral. This saw members of the British Army support the Afghan Army and the Afghan Police as part of their continued presence in the country.
Speaking to the Times following the meeting, the Macedon DEA representative said: “I am grateful for the constituents who sent me good wishes in letters and emails while I was away.
“It is good to be back and I am looking forward to serving the wonderful constituents of Macedon with renewed vigour.”
Cllr Hogg’s party colleague and Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, Cllr Paul Hamill has welcomed his safe return.
Cllr Hamill said: “I’m delighted Cllr Hogg has returned safely to Northern Ireland. We have certainly missed him, though he did keep in touch during his time in Afghanistan.
“We are thankful to all who serve in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and are always comforted when they return safely.”
He added: “I know how hard Thomas works to serve the constituents of Macedon and can see already how he is keen to represent them as ever.
“Thomas is a well liked and respected councillor and I have spoken to many other councillors who are also pleased to see him return. I look forward to working with him on the council.”