Obamas given freedom of Dublin amid outcry
2017-02-15 09:30:38 -
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By Chinedu Onyejelem

Former US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are to receive the Freedom of the City of Dublin – a decision not without controversy in the capital.

A majority of Dublin City Council members present at a recent meeting voted to bestow the honour on the Obamas after a proposal presented by Lord Mayor of Dublin Brendan Carr.

The Freedom of the City of Dublin “acknowledges the contribution of certain people to the life of our city”, according to the council. “No financial or other benefits are attached to the Freedom of the City. However it does carry significant prestige, as well as some interesting symbolic privileges and duties.”

Barack and Michelle Obama will join 78 other people who have been given the freedom of Dublin to date, including fellow former US Presidents Bill Clinton and the late John F Kennedy.

“I believe Barack and Michelle Obama did set the right direction for the US both domestically and in international relations of seeking to build a cohesive and inclusive society which respects all its constituent communities,” said the Lord Mayor in defending his proposal. “This was done often in the face of stiff opposition from a Congress and a US military and commercial establishment which unfortunately is not as supportive of these aims as the former first couple.”

The Lord Mayor also cited Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, and his efforts to defuse tensions in the Middle East by signing an agreement to halt Iran’s nuclear programme as well as ending US military operations in Afghanistan, while praising Michelle Obama’s campaigns for refugee rights and greater access to education for women worldwide.

However, the vote saw a walk-out by People-Before-Profit councillors John Lyons, Andrew Keegan, Tina MacVeigh and Hazel de Nortuin, who issued a statement declaring their opposition to honouring a leader who “presided over growing inequality at home, mass incarceration and deportations and ongoing wars in the Middle East”.

Previous recipients of the freedom of Dublin include the late South African freedom fighter and later president Nelson Mandela, who was still imprisoned when bestowed the honour in 1988, and Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who received her honour on 18 June 2012 after her release from house arrest, but has since come under fire for her refusal to denounce the alleged genocide of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar.
TAGS : Ireland Dublin Amid Outcry Dublin
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