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Dublin: 16 °C Friday 20 September, 2019

Dublin councillors to examine rules about removing Freedom of the City status

Bob Geldof yesterday asked that he have his honour taken away from him.

Both Aung San Suu Kyi and Bob Geldof have the keys to the city of Dublin.
Both Aung San Suu Kyi and Bob Geldof have the keys to the city of Dublin.

DUBLIN CITY COUNCILLORS are to debate whether they need a protocol in place to remove the Freedom of the City from someone.

Moves are under way to speak about this matter, possibly as early as 30 November, after yesterday’s decision by Bob Geldof to hand back his honour in protest against Aung San Suu Kyi.

Geldof received the Freedom of the City in 2005, six years after Suu Kyi.

Speaking at City Hall as he handed back a symbolic scroll to Dublin City Council, Geldof said he was disappointed to do it but that Suu Kyi was “a killer” who didn’t deserve the award.

The inaction by Myanmar’s leader Suu Kyi amid ethnic cleansing in her country against the Rohingya people has led to the Noble Peace Prize winner being criticised internationally.

Geldof said he would happily continue to be a freeman of Dublin city if Suu Kyi was removed from the roll.

This has presented a problem as there is no protocol in place to remove someone from the list if it is deemed necessary.

The protocol committee of the council is meeting later this month and its chair Councillor Deirdre Heney says the issue will likely be discussed soon. If not this month, then soon afterwards.

“It is the case that we want to have a protocol to deal with such matters because it’s the second time that it’s been discussed about Aung San Suu Kyi and we didn’t finalise what we were going to do on it before,” the Fianna Fáil councillor said.

Given the publicity that Bob Geldof generated yesterday, it may be the case that it will come up at the next protocol committee meeting, but to be honest at this time I don’t know.

Heney says there is an appetite to have such a protocol in place and she adds that it could even strengthen the value of the Freedom of the City of Dublin.

“As well as setting out a protocol for this type of issue. It will also I suppose focus people’s minds in the future when it is decided to award such an honour on an individual,” she told

Source: Sky News/YouTube

Dublin City Council met last night on budgetary matters but the Geldof/Suu Kyi issue was raised by Councillor Mannix Flynn, who joined Geldof at City Hall yesterday.

The independent councillor believes the matter deserves an emergency meeting of the protocol committee “as a matter of urgency”.

Flynn and a number of other Dublin councillors had previously stated that Suu Kyi should have her freewoman status rescinded but their efforts were met with the above problems.

Councillor Tina McVeigh has tabled a motion that would get around this by, instead of removing the status from Suu Kyi, asking her to give it up.

“My motion calls on the council to write to her asking her to voluntarily give up her freedom. And also to take a look at the legislation which obviously needs to be amended because it could happen again,” the People Before Profit councillor said.

McVeigh is sceptical of Geldof’s motives in his actions yesterday and notes that him giving up his knighthood would also give him the publicity he was seeking for the Rohingya cause.

She nonetheless welcomes that the issue is being debated again.

“The good side of yesterday’s gesture on his behalf was to put this back on the agenda, keep this on the agenda and to keep the conversation going,” she said.

Read: He admits giving it up is ‘a PR stunt’, but what happens now to Bob Geldof’s Freedom of Dublin? >

Read: Bob Geldof defends decision to return the Freedom of the City of Dublin >

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Rónán Duffy

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