Ian Paisley Jr given Freedom of the City of London at Guildhall reception

Ian Paisley Jr given Freedom of the City of London at Guildhall reception

TODAY Ian Paisley Jr became the latest Irish person to be awarded the Freedom of the City of London.

The North Antrim MP joins the likes of Bob Geldof and Terry Wogan, who have also been honoured with the title - which marks one of the longest surviving ceremonial traditions of the city.

The Freedom was bestowed upon Mr Paisley Jr, son of the late DUP leader Dr Ian Paisley, at the Guildhall today, in recognition of his efforts to increase business between the city and his constituency in the North of Ireland.

"It is not every day a person receives word that they are to be given the freedom of a city,” he said. "But to be honoured with the freedom of our nation's capital I am more than privileged and pleasantly surprised.”

He added: "I am very pleased that my proposer was so enthusiastic about the work I have done in promoting business and commercial links between North Antrim companies and London and that this has been recognised.”

Created in 1237, the award originally gave members of a Guild or Livery the freedom to trade in London.

But the Freedom was eventually modernised to incorporate people living or working in the city or those with a strong London connection.

A number of rights are traditionally associated with freemen — including the right to drive sheep and cattle over London Bridge; the right to use of to a silken rope if hanged and the right to carry a naked sword in public.

While sheep have occasionally been driven over London Bridge on special occasions, the rest of these privileges are now effectively symbolic.

Oscar winner Dame Judi Dench, British actor Norman Wisdom, Harry Potter creator JK Rowling and former South African president Nelson Mandela have all previously been awarded the title.