Barack Obama to be made Honorary Citizen of Dublin

Lord Mayor Brendan Carr tweeted the announcement

Barack Obama to be made Honorary Citizen of Dublin

Barack and Michelle Obama arrive at Dublin Airport in 2011 | Image: RollingNews.ie

Former US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle have been awarded the Freedom of Dublin City.

Councillors voted by a majority to bestow the honour, which acknowledges the contribution of people and important visitors to the city.

No financial or other benefits are attached to the award, but it does carry some interesting symbolic privileges and duties.

These include the right to bring goods into Dublin through the city gates without paying customs duties, and the right to pasture sheep on common ground within the city boundaries.

This area incorporates modern-day College Green and St Stephen’s Green. This right was actually exercised by Freeman Bono of U2 in 2000.

Recipients are referred to as a 'Freeman' or 'Freewoman' of Dublin and are also honorary citizens.

Dublin's Lord Mayor Brendan Carr tweeted the announcement.

To date, only 78 people have been given the Freedom of the City.

Some recipients have not been available to receive their awards at the date they were conferred.

For example, Nelson Mandela was a prisoner in South Africa in 1988 when he was made a Freeman of the city. He subsequently received his award in 1990.

Another recipient, Aung San Suu Kyi, was under house arrest at the time of her being awarded - she received her award on June 18th 2012.

It comes amid speculation that Mr Obama will re-visit Ireland in the near future.

The Obama family previously visited Dublin and Wicklow in 2013. While a trip in 2011 also saw them take in Mr Obama's ancestral home of Moneygall.

The out-going US ambassador to Ireland, Kevin F O'Malley, also sent his congratulations.

However, People Before Profit and Workers' Party councillors walked out of the Dublin City Council meeting as the announcement was made.

In a statement, People Before Profit claim the awarding of such an honour "to a president who presided over growing inequality at home, mass incarceration and deportations and ongoing wars in the Middle East is an insult to the people of Dublin City".

"While we believe it is correct to express opposition and mobilise resistance to Donald Trump and his overt racism and misogyny, we nevertheless must remember that Obama's eight years in the White House simply established the conditions which gave rise to such a horror as Trump.

"The change and hope upon which Obama was elected and re-elected was never delivered upon."

While Éilis Ryan from the Workers' Party said: "To grant Dublin's highest honour to a man responsible for inflicting such harm on communities across the globe, does a great disservice to the residents of Dublin - and, more importantly, to the families of the many victim's of Obama's record of war and bombing.

"Its unheard of that the Freedom of the City would be granted to such a divisive figure. Indeed, there has never been a vote on a candidate during my time on the council."