logoColin Weir MBE


MBE winner Colin is given top Army post. Jan 2010

A PORTADOWN-born soldier has been appointed Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment. Lt-Col Colin Weir (38) is thought to be the first military man from the town to be given such an honour in the British Army, making it a double award as he received the MBE in the New Year Honours List.

Speaking from his home in Surrey Lt-Col Weir said, "Of course, I'm delighted to be doubly honoured in this way. I feel especially pleased for my family who have backed me throughout my life." He is the son of respected former teacher at Edenderry Primary School, Mrs Maud Weir, and of the late Mr Herbie Weir who was a Major in Territorial Army. He and his wife Diane - who hails from Kilkeel - have three sons.

Lt-Col Weir comes from a strong military background on both sides of his family - his maternal grandfather, Sergeant Davis, came through the First World War and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the Military Medal and the french honour the Croix de Guerre - he was a machine gunner in the Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Colin Weir was educated at Edenderry Primary School, Killicomaine JHS and Portadown College, after which he graduated from Queen's University, Belfast, with an Honours Degree in History. From there, he went into the Army Officer Training College at Sandhurst and emerged as a Captain with 1 Royal Irish. His progression to Lt-Col - and in the field of battle - has been consistent with the life of a dedicated, professional soldier.

His service includes a year in Cyprus, followed by the Bosnian War with the UN Forces, commanding an anti-tank platoon, a tour of duty in South Armagh and Fermanagh - "when we weren't allowed to visit home" - a Kosovo operation in 1999 with NATO, teaching peace-keeping techniques in West Africa, jungle warfare training in the Caribbean, and a tour of Iraq.

In the past couple of years, Lt-Col Weir has been deployed as Military Assistant to Northern Ireland's GOC, and has been Chief of Staff of 11 Light Brigade for operations in Afghanistan. He was involved in the formation of the Brigade, for which he has received the MBE. He said, "I'm so looking forward to my new commission, which I start in March. I take over from Ed Freely, and I also have a famous predecessor in Tim Collins. "It's a great honour. The only drawback is that it lasts for just two-and-a-half years and soldiers are allowed just one commission as CO. After that, I do hope it isn't a desk job. That wouldn't suit me at all."