Prime Minister's tribute to dead RIR soldier

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Image caption, Colleagues described Ranger McCormick as the 'epitome of the Irish infantry soldier'

The Prime Minister has paid tribute to a Coleraine soldier who died in an explosion in Afghanistan on Sunday.

David Cameron said Ranger Aaron McCormick was "tough, selfless, good humoured and full of compassion".

"He showed astonishing bravery, leading the way in clearing IEDs for the safety of local civilians and his fellow soldiers," Mr Cameron told the House of Commons at Westminster.

Ranger McCormick was 22 years old and came from Macosquin, Londonderry.

He was helping to clear roadside bombs in the Nad-e Ali area of Helmand when he was caught in the blast.

A special assembly was held at his former school, Coleraine Academical Institution, on Wednesday.

Staff and pupils remembered a student who always dreamed of being a soldier.

Special assembly

School principal Dr David Carruthers said: "He's remembered as polite, he always got on very well with teachers and pupils.

"It was clear through his time at school that what he always wanted to do was join the forces and shortly after leaving school he joined up and he was very proud to be a member of the Royal Irish Regiment.

"It was absolutely Aaron's intention to make a career of being a soldier which just makes it all the more terrible, such a terrible loss at such a young age."

Dr Carruthers said many former pupils who had known Aaron had called into the school or telephoned.

"I think really they were just touching base with what they all had in common, as in having been through the school and I think they just wanted to make sure the school knew what had happened and really just get a collective sense of how tragic this is," he said.

It was Ranger McCormick's second tour of duty in Afghanistan, where he was involved in detecting mines.

Lt Col Colin Weir, commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, the Royal Irish Regiment, said: "Ranger Aaron McCormick was the epitome of the Irish infantry soldier - tough, selfless, good-humoured and full of compassion."

Ranger McCormick's death takes the number of UK servicemen and women to have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001 to 344.

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