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Duncan Stewart and Greta Thunberg Stock Photo
Dublin City

Greta Thunberg and Duncan Stewart due to receive Freedom of Dublin next week

Dublin City Councillors approved the nominations at a monthly meeting yesterday.

LAST UPDATE | Jun 13th 2023, 10:45 AM

A CEREMONY TO award the Freedom of the City of Dublin to climate activist Greta Thunberg and environmentalist Duncan Stewart could be held next week after their nominations were approved by the council yesterday. 

Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy had put Thunberg forward alongside Stewart to receive the accolade in recognition of their efforts to protect the earth, the first time nominations have been made for work in the area.

More than 80 people have previously received the award, the most recent of whom are campaigner Ailbhe Smyth, cyberpsychology expert Professor Mary Aiken, and Olympian Kellie Harrington.

Other past recipients include Father Peter McVerry, the four members of U2, and Eamon de Valera.

The historical privileges, which are mostly symbolic in modern times, include being exempt from tax on goods brought through the city gates and permission to graze sheep on College Green and St Stephen’s Green.

Thunberg, who is 20 years old, is known for her activism on climate issues, calling for world leaders to take action to prevent climate catastrophe.

Stewart, widely known for Eco Eye which aired its final episode on RTÉ in February, is set to become the first environmentalist to receive the honour.

In a statement last week, the Lord Mayor said: “I am a huge admirer of both Duncan and Greta. They are absolutely passionate about raising awareness of this huge issue,” she said.

“Our city has never before used this award to celebrate the role of environmental activists. We must recognise the incredible work done across generations to protect our shared city and planet.”

The nominations were made last week at a meeting of Dublin City Council’s Protocol Committee.

They were sent forward for approval at the yesterday’s monthly meeting of Dublin City Council.

In a tweet last night, Conroy confirmed that Thunberg’s and Stewart’s nominations have been approved. 

“I can’t think of an Irish person who has done more over such a long period of time to spread the word on environmental issues than Duncan,” she said. 

“And Greta has been a significant persence on the international stage, particularly in rallying young people to the climate challenge.”

Conroy said she is looking forward to the ceremony to award the Freedom of the City of Dublin to the pair next week. 

A number of councillors and Joan Collins TD have written a letter to Thunberg asking her to decline the honorary award.

“While we support your work and vision, we fear your nomination is another attempt to ‘greenwash’ the disastrous policies of this Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party government,” they wrote. 

“We do not want to vote to ‘greenwash’ this Government’s inability to provide adequate housing, healthcare, public services or living standards for the people of Ireland. We do not want to vote to ‘greenwash the Government’s refusal to take real and effective climate action,” they said.

They also wrote: “We would ask you to decline this honorary award and support us in the fight to take effective action on climate change and to provide a decent standard of living for everyone on this planet before it is too late.”

Alongside Collins, the letter was signed by Councillors Sophie Nicoullaud, Pat Dunne, Cieran Perry and Dean Mulligan. 

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