Northern Ireland

Hundreds at RIR soldier David Dalzell's funeral

The funeral of David Dalzell, the 20-year-old Royal Irish Regiment soldier shot dead in Afghanistan two weeks ago, has taken place in Bangor.

The soldier was fatally wounded by a colleague after he returned to his base in Helmand province.

His family has said the shooting was a tragic accident.

The service was held at Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church. A minister said David "had found his calling in life and by all accounts was a natural".

The Reverend David Leach added: "Although we look around and recognise that we honour him with all the military trappings that surround a funeral such as this, we do well to remember that David was first and foremost a much-loved son and brother."

Ranger Dalzell was the youngest of seven children.

Hundreds of people attended the funeral, including members of the armed and security forces.

A guard of honour of former soldiers was formed near the church as the cortege drove past the British Legion carrying the coffin, draped in the union jack with his beret on top.

Image caption Ranger Dalzell was 20 when he was fatally injured in Helmand province

First Minister Peter Robinson, MP Lady Sylvia Hermon, Secretary of State Owen Paterson and former RUC and PSNI chief constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan were among mourners.

Rev Leach said David had followed his older brother into the military and that his parents were worried about him going to Afghanistan.

His older brother told of how David was planning for his future and had talked about buying a house with his girlfriend.

The young soldier's girlfriend Debbie also spoke movingly about him. She said when he left for Afghanistan he did not say goodbye but "see you soon".

The Ministry of Defence has refused to be drawn on the circumstances surrounding the death and a spokeswoman said details of the accident would be heard during an inquest.

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