Walk-out at council meeting after Lord Mayor of Dublin awards Freedom of the City to the Obamas
There was a walk-out at Dublin City Council's meeting yesterday after the Lord Mayor awarded the Freedom of the City to Barack Obama.
Lord Mayor Brendan Carr put forward a request to award the prestigious honour to Barrack and Michelle Obama, which was followed by a heated debate.
The suggestion was put to a vote, which passed by a narrow margin.
When the decision was passed, People-Before-Profit councillors John Lyons, Andrew Keegan, Tina MacVeigh and Hazel de Nortuin all stood up and left the council chamber.
The Dublin city representatives said they believe that 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.
Cllr Lyons told Independent.ie that the walkout was a symbolic gesture.
"We walked out for about 30 minutes as a symbolic gesture for those who are now being targeted by a US cabinet and President that are a direct result of Obama's record.
"While he is a great user of rhetoric, the actual reality of his record is one of causing death, destruction, hardship and misery both in the US and across the world.
"The Freedom of Dublin shouldn't be so frivolously awarded to a man which such a bad record," he said.
Members of the Workers' Party also reacted strongly to the announcement.
In a statement, AAA Councillor Michael O'Brien, said: "Lord Mayor of Dublin, FF, FG and Labour Councillors spit on the graves of thousands of drone victims by awarding Obama Freedom of the City of Dublin. "
Lord Mayor Brendan Carr voiced his reasons for his wish to honour the Obamas with the award.
"In light of the recent draconian decisions being taken by his successor President Donald Trump, I believe it is more important now than ever that I proceed with this proposal.
"In addition, I am also proposing that the City Council recognise the inspirational role on human rights played by First Lady Michelle Obama by also awarding her the highest honour we can grant – the Freedom of Dublin City.
"While I’m aware some Councillors may have reservations over failings of US foreign policy during the Presidency of Barack Obama, I believe he and Michelle, through their promotion of the rights of refugees, humanitarian causes campaigning on behalf of women’s rights and focus on improving international relations with several States did point American society in a progressive direction.
"I believe awarding the Obamas, a couple who consistently spoke in support of these principles, the Freedom of the City would be the most powerful way we could make a statement on their importance at this time," he said.